Classical Reformed Apologetics

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by A.Joseph, May 8, 2019.

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  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    What's the source of the Bahnsen quote because I have his Van Til reader and internalism isn't found in the index at least? Also maybe I misunderstand but how can someone who affirms the use of evidences, within a framework, be strictly an internalist?
  2. Goodcheer68

    Goodcheer68 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Bosserman disagrees. He says on page 181 of The Trinity and Vindication of Christian Paradox that to "add or subtract from the number of three divine persons is to compromise an ultimately personalist view of reality, by making God identical with, or subordinate to, an impersonal context." I don't want to type up the whole section where Bosserman explains this, so hopefully a picture of the section will suffice.
    IMG_5775.JPG IMG_5774.JPG

    edit- I cant figure out how to upload a pic that reads full size. If someone wants to explain Ill re-upload the photos. maybe this will do
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It's concerning what is knowledge. Bahnsen defines knowledge as justified, true belief. He doesn't use the term "Internalism," but that's what it is in the textbooks on epistemology.
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    A quadrinity leaves one person out concerning equal ultimacy, but it does account for personalism on a more basic level (with the other three). I admitted there are problems with quadrinism, but it can play the TAG game just as well
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    This might help. I tried to discuss these issues a few years ago with the Reconstructionist terrorist Bojidar Marinov. It didn't go well.

    Justification seeks the satisfaction of epistemic duty. Applied to the Van Tillian case, the person must fulfill an epistemic duty in order to have true knowledge; namely, the duty is to “establish the preconditions of intelligibility.” Further, since it involves the formation of a belief, it is internal (hence, internalism). Internalism also involves a view of cognitive accessibility (Plantinga 36), but this isn’t relevant to the above discussion.
  6. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Yeah I looked up internalism on the web. Yes Bahnsen does use justified true belief. His PhD was in epistemology. Thanks. I'll ponder this, although reading about the subject, my opinion, is it seems to me that the whole debate is one of emphasis. The justifiers for knowledge vs the process of obtaining knowledge. Thanks though.
  7. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Yes but Van Til used his apologetic as a method. I agree with you that he's an internalist of sorts. But within the context of his "whole" thought, I'm not sure the term completely applies. But I see your point. And thanks for the links.
  8. Goodcheer68

    Goodcheer68 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I thought TAG needed an enclosed system?
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Transcendental arguments in general usually don't need a system. TAG likes to say it comes pre-packaged, but I know a number of EO and RCC guys who use TAG quite effectively. TAG proves theism, maybe Trinitarianism.
  10. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    So I decided to dig a little into this and will share the archaeology here. I own the Van Til Reader book and a number of Plantinga's works, but do not really have time to go through the Plantinga books, so I'll simply quote from Wikipedia:

    "Alvin Plantinga's Reformed epistemology includes two arguments against classical foundationalism. The first grew out of his earlier argument in God and Other Minds (1967). In that work Plantinga argued that if our belief in other minds is rational without propositional or physical evidence, then belief in God is also rational. In his 1993 works, Plantinga argued that according to classical foundationalism most of us are irrational for having many beliefs we cannot justify, but which foundationalism does not accept as properly basic. Plantinga's second argument against classical foundationalism is that it is self-referentially incoherent. It fails the test of its own rules, which require that it be either self-evident, incorrigible, or evident to the senses.

    In Plantinga's view, warrant is defined as the property of beliefs that makes them knowledge. Plantinga argues that a properly basic belief in God is warranted when produced by a sound mind, in an environment supportive of proper thought in accord with a design plan successfully aimed at truth.[10] Because there is an epistemically possible model according to which theistic belief is properly basic and designed to form true belief in God, belief in God is probably warranted if theism is true. Plantinga does not argue that this model is true, but only that if it is true, theistic belief is also likely true, because then theistic belief would result from our belief-forming faculties functioning as they were designed.

    This connection between the truth value of theism and its positive epistemic status suggests to some that the goal of showing theistic belief to be externally warranted requires reasons for supposing that theism is true (Sudduth, 2000). This point is answered by many theistic arguments which purport to provide sufficient propositional and physical evidence to warrant that belief, apart from reformed epistemology."
    By contrast a quote by Bahnsen with context from Van Til Reader p.178:

    “Beliefs that are arbitrarily adopted or based upon faulty grounds, even when they turn out to be true, do not qualify as instances of “knowledge.”

    What is the additional ingredient, besides being correct, that a belief must have in order to count as knowledge? It must be substantiated, supported, or justified by evidence. Knowledge is true belief held on adequate grounds, rather than held fallaciously or haphazardly. To put it traditionally, knowledge is justified, true belief.

    It should be noted here that by “justified” we mean that the person actually has sound reasons (good evidence), not simply that he thinks his evidence is good or sufficient in light of the pool of information available to him.” Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis P.178

    Another quote by Bahnsen from the article "The Heart of the Matter" (also in the book "Always Ready") subsection "Knowing and Believing":

    "Christians are often called "believers," while non-Christians are termed "unbelievers." Scripture itself speaks this way: we read that "believers were the more added to the Lord" (Acts 5:14), and that they should not be "unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor. 6:14). There is obviously two classes of people distinguished by whether they believe or not. It can rightly be said that what separates Christians from non-Christians is the matter of faith.

    Christians believe certain things which non-Christians do not. Christians believe the claims of Christ and the teachings of the Bible to be true, but non-Christians disbelieve them. Christians have faith in Christ and trust His promises; non-Christians do not believe in Him and doubt His word. It is quite natural, then, that the gospel can be called "the word of faith" (Rom. 10:8). Becoming a Christian entails that you "believe in your heart that God raised Him [Christ] from the dead" (v. 9); likewise, "he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). Examples could be multiplied. What sets Christians off from non-Christians is the matter of belief or faith.

    However, the difference between them is more than that in an important sense, and we need to understand this if we are going to do a faithful job in defending the faith. The Christian claims to "believe" the teachings of Scripture or to have "faith" in the person of Christ [1] because the element of trust is so prominent in our relationship with the Savior. But the Christian actually claims more than simply to believe Christ's claims to be true. The Christian also affirms that he or she "knows" those claims to be true. What is involved in saving faith is more than hope (although that is present) and more than a commitment of will (although that too is present). Job confidently asserted, "I know my Redeemer lives" (Job 19:25). John indicated that he wrote his first epistle so that those "who believe on the name of the Son of God" "may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). Paul declared that God "has furnished proof" that Jesus will judge the world (Acts 17:31). Jesus promised His disciples that they would "know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32).

    In what way does knowledge go beyond belief? Knowledge includes having justification or good reason to support whatever it is you believe. Imagine that I believe there are thirty-seven square miles in a particular city, and imagine also that it just so happens that this claim is accurate - but imagine as well that I simply got this answer by guessing (rather than doing measurements, mathematics or checking an almanac, etc.). I believed something which happened to be true, but we would not say that I had "knowledge" in this case because I had no justification for what I believed. When we claim to know that something is true, we are thereby claiming to have adequate evidence, proof or good reason for it.

    The difference between the Christian and the non-Christian is not simply that one believes the Bible and the other does not. People's beliefs can be frivolous, random, or silly. The Christian also claims that there is justification for believing what the Bible says. The non-Christian says, to the contrary, that there is no justification (or adequate justification) for believing the Bible's claims - or, in stronger cases, says that there is justification for disbelieving the Bible's claims. Apologetics amounts to an inquiry into and debate over who is correct on this matter. It involves giving reasons, offering refutations, and answering objections." Bahnsen, Greg PA099 The Biblical Worldview (VII:1; Jan., 1991) (Available in the book: Always Ready PA600)

    In short response to the Wikipedia entry, none of the writers of Scripture, penned Scripture with the mindset of "if" God exists or He "probably" or "likely" exists, and neither Van Til nor Greg Bahnsen taught apologetics with a doubters mindset of "if" or probably as properly basic. Dr. Bahnsen made no mention of internalism/externalism in the referenced work, and the context of justified is sound reasons or good evidence not arbitrary belief.
  11. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    I also searched the index and confirmed, also quoted from the page 178 to provide important context. And good question.
  12. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    I thought of this when I was reading over this thread yesterday. The interesting thing is that if Bosserman is right, he's effectively shown that someone can reason to the doctrine of the Trinity.
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    None of that has anything to do with what I said. Internalism is another way to say justified, true belief. It's internal in the sense that my mind has to account for justification of knowledge, meeting conditions, etc. This is in every epistemology textbook. Bahnsen didn't use the term "internalism" because at that time people were calling it "K=JTB"
  14. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes I understand, I also understand Plantinga is an internalist, for it is he who must do the properly basic believing with his mind.
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Plantinga wrote a trilogy attacking the concept of internalism. He is the most famous exponent of Gettier's problem today. He is an externalist. No one in the field of philosophy today claims he is an internalist.

    As he noted in Warrant, the Current Debate

    I do not have to have some internal access to truth-making functions. Plantinga lists Aristotle (de Anima and Posterior Analytics II) and Aquinas (ST 1 q. 84, 85) as externalists (183ff). Externalism is correct about warrant (if only as a denial of internalism).

    He is an externalist in the sense that if my cognitive faculties are properly functioning, I don't have to meet criteria upon criteria to justify a belief. As he noted in Warrant and Proper Function

    In the nature of the case we do not have basic beliefs about these three entities in the sense that evidentialism and classic foundationalism require (especially memory and testimony; solipsism has a host of problems beyond this).

    If a belief is formed in proper circumstances according to its proper cognitive design, it has warrant. Of course, it can be subject to defeaters, but that is a different problem.
  16. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well to look at Van Til as offering anything other than a method is faulty. Yes Bahnsen uses the phrase JTB to describe Van Tils method but to label him as strictly an internalist is missing his work on evidences. I love Plantinga, but as a method I find Van Til better.
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    If you want to use "preconditions of intelligibility" on the streets, go for it. But if Van Tillians depend on internalism as part of their method (and they do, given the line about "accounting" for your knowledge), then it is open to all the Gettier defeaters.
  18. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    What defeaters? Plus Strawson gave transcendental arguments a good logical form. They have been revived you might say. Are you suggesting there are no preconditions of intelligibility? Plus you haven't proven that Van Til is a strict internalist. His work on evidences speak for itself. Thanks for the articles they are nice.
  19. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Gettier's Defeaters that show that the claim that knowledge = justified, true belief is inadequate. Not wrong, but just inadequate:

    For example, I look at a field in the early morning fog and see what I think is a sheep. As it happens, it wasn’t a sheep but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Unbeknownst to me, there was indeed a sheep in the field behind the wolf. Technically, I was correct. I saw something in the field that I thought was a sheep. It was true belief and I was justified in holding it, yet it wasn’t knowledge (Plantinga 32)

    It's an issue that no one outside the Idealist tradition worries about. There might be preconditions of intelligibility, but I am more concerned with belief-formations in the mind.

    Yes, I have. Numerous times.
    His work on evidences isn't really germane to the subject. You can find people within both internalist and externalist camps that either reject or use evidences.

    Externalism doesn't mean "using evidences" in the popular apologetics sense.
  20. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well I think it is well documented that neither Van Til nor I am an idealist. Where did you show that Van Til was an internalist? I'll be embarrassed if it was those links you gave me, I've been jumping through hoops for this manager job (it's not been easy so sorry). I don't see how the idea of "preconditions" is irrelevant? Strawson has done work in this area, transcendental arguments in all. Evidences at least prove Van Til wasn't a complete internalist.
  21. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    He's not, strictly speaking. He did write his dissertation on the Idealist tradition, and he employs (often successfully) many idealist concepts (e.g., "concrete universal").
    My mistake. Bahnsen is an internalist. I'll have to look up where CVT dealt, if at all, with JTB.
    It works with strict empiricists or strict monists. I've used it before in those situations.
  22. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well his dissertation was against idealism. But yes he did employ the vocabulary of idealism (we all employ the philosophical vocabulary of the day).

    He and I are not "strict" monists or empericests. But I will concede that Bahnsen and I guess I am an internalist. But I regect the distinction as irrelevant. So I think it holds no weight.

    Also I don't see why preconditions aren't legitimate? I will read those links once I can. Why is JTB a bad thing? Good discussion though!
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Of course you aren't. You are a Christian. My point was that the Van tillian approach works well against strict monists and empiricists.
    They aren't illegitimate. They are just inadequate. The problem with JTB isn't that it is wrong, but even if you can account for justified true belief, there are still situations where you wouldn't have knowledge.
  24. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    My point is, I do not think Plantinga is consistently an externalist (not that he claimed to be an internalist). As a related aside, Aristotle is also known for his concept of tabula rasa, and I am unclear how such a view of knowledge squares away with the doctrine of original sin... Moving on, as for Bahnsen and Van Til and externalism, first a quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    "Externalism in the philosophy of mind contends that the meaning or content of a thought[1] is partly determined by the environment. The view has garnered attention since it denies the traditional assumption, associated with Descartes, that thought content is fixed independently of the external world. Apparently under this assumption, Descartes also believed that he could know the content of his thoughts while suspending all judgment about his environs. (Indeed, such knowledge was thought indubitable.) Yet if externalism is correct, this may well be a mistake. As we shall see, externalism can suggest that Descartes is unable to know that his own thought represents, say, elm trees (vs. beech trees) without knowing that it is elms (and not beeches) that the thought is connected to in the world. But if such worldly knowledge is a prerequisite, then Descartes could not know the content of this thought just “from the armchair,” so to speak. So there seems to be a conflict between externalism and such armchair knowledge of one’s own thought contents (for short: “armchair self-knowledge”). The question whether this conflict is real is what drives the contemporary debate on externalism and self-knowledge.

    Officially, we can put the issue in terms of an apparent tension between the following:

    (EXT) Thought content is determined partly by the environment.[2]
    (SK) A subject can know from the armchair what content her thoughts have.[3]
    The issue is that EXT seemingly implies that knowing about content requires knowing about the environment. And since the latter is empirical, so too would be the former, contra SK.[4] Now it is usually thought that, if EXT is incompatible with SK, this would be a serious problem for EXT (though some think internalism also conflicts with SK; see McLaughlin & Tye 1998a, Farkas 2003, Bar-On 2006, p. 434). Yet some think the incompatibility threatens SK instead of EXT (see section2.4). Regardless, the interest in the debate goes beyond EXT, for it pertains to many central concerns of philosophers, such as the nature of knowledge and the relation between mind and world. The debate also touches on more specialized topics, including memory, concept acquisition, epistemic responsibility, and transcendental arguments.

    In the standard terminology, the dispute is between incompatibilists who affirm the conflict between EXT and SK, and compatibilists who deny it." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    I think both Van Til and Bahnsen would fall into the compatibilist category. At this point, I'd like to quote Van Til from his short work "Why I Believe in God":

    "On the other hand by my belief in God I do have unity in my experience. Not of course the sort of unity that you want. Not a unity that is the result of my own autonomous determination of what is possible. But a unity that is higher than mine and prior to mine. On the basis of God’s counsel I can look for facts and find them without destroying them in advance. On the basis of God’s counsel I can be a good physicist, a good biologist, a good psychologist, or a good philosopher. In all these fields I use my powers of logical arrangement in order to see as much order in God’s universe as it may be given a creature to see. The unities, or systems, that I make are true because they are genuine pointers toward the basic or original unity that is found in the counsel of God.

    Looking about me I see both order and disorder in every dimension of life. But I look at both of them in the light of the Great Orderer who is back of them. I need not deny either of them in the interest of optimism or in the interest of pessimism. I see the strong men of biology searching diligently through hill and dale to prove that the creation doctrine is not true with respect to the human body, only to return and admit that the missing link is missing still. I see the strong men of psychology search deep and far into the subconsciousness, child and animal consciousness, in order to prove that the creation and providence doctrines are not true with respect to the human soul, only to return and admit that the gulf between human and animal intelligence is as great as ever. I see the strong men of logic and scientific methodology search deep into the transcendental for a validity that will not be swept away by the ever-changing tide of the wholly new, only to return and say that they can find no bridge from logic to reality, or from reality to logic. And yet I find all these, though standing on their heads, reporting much that is true. I need only to turn their reports right side up, making God instead of man the center of it all, and I have a marvelous display of the facts as God has intended me to see them.

    And if my unity is comprehensive enough to include the efforts of those who reject it, it is large enough even to include that which those who have been set upright by regeneration cannot see. My unity is that of a child who walks with its father through the woods. The child is not afraid because its father knows it all and is capable of handling every situation, So I readily grant that there are some “difficulties” with respect to belief in God and His revelation in nature and Scripture that I cannot solve. In fact there is mystery in every relationship with respect to every fact that faces me, for the reason that all facts have their final explanation in God whose thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and whose ways are higher than my ways. And it is exactly that sort of God that I need. Without such a God, without the God of the Bible, the God of authority, the God who is self-contained and therefore incomprehensible to men, there would be no reason in anything. No human being can explain in the sense of seeing through all things, but only he who believes in God has the right to hold that there is an explanation at all.

    So you see when I was young I was conditioned on every side; I could not help believing in God. Now that I am older I still cannot help believing in God. I believe in God now because unless I have Him as the All-Conditioner, life is chaos." Van Til, Why I Believe God
    Read the first sentence again from the Standford entry and tell me all-conditioning does not involve partial determination by environment. But just to be clear let me quote on last time from the same writing by Van Til:

    "Shall we say then that in my early life I was conditioned to believe in God, while you were left free to develop your own judgment as you pleased? But that will hardly do. You know as well as I that every child is conditioned by his environment."​

    Over and over throughout this discussion you have insisted Bahnsen and Van Til were strict internalists, but the quotes speak for themselves contrary to your claims. Both were epistemological compatiblists.
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I think you are misunderstanding what internalism is about. One can hold internalism and also hold that a person is conditioned by his environment. That's not what's being discussed. If you hold to justified true belief, you are an internalist. That's all.

    Externalism simply means if my cognitive faculties are properly working and producing reliable beliefs.

  26. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Ok, sorry for assuming. My apologies. What about my position is inadequate? As a method it seems quite adequate. Plus Plantinga's is quite useful as well.
  27. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    It still seems the difference is one of emphasis not one of substance. Proccess vs justification is semantically one of emphasis.
  28. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It's only inadequate when presups start saying, "Well, how can you account for knowledge?" If the person is a pure disciple of Hume, that's a valid question. Most people aren't, and if someone knows his epistemology, he can turn the question around with a number of Gettier defeaters (which I listed above).
  29. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well I didn't go the knowledge route. But I do maintain that it is through a trancedental argument that we can account for everything in experience.
  30. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I don't believe I've gone the knowledge route. Only tried to argue anything and everything can't make sense outside of the Christian faith. Sure unbelievers can reason well. But ultimately they will fall short of any sort explanation. They can explain many things but as far as a "total" explination, no.
    Think about it this, since Christian theism is true it stands to reason that only Christianity can account for totality of things we experience.
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