Van Til and paradox

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Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by Don
Matt,


They answered very simply that such was not what Clark taught. They say that "men" are in the Bible, and thus they would never resort, nor did Clark, to absurdity in saying that your name has to be there. We know men exist because God created them, they have children, and they continue to exist. We don't need our name there, etc. HTis would go for anything we find that is extrapolated: trees, works of art, craftsmanship, industry, animals, creeping things, birds, the world, stars, etc.

The critique is more along these lines:

"Men" may be in the Bible, but *certain or particular* men are not in the Bible. Assuming Scripturalism, how do I connect 'men' in the Bible to a particular man outside the Bible in order to know that I am a man? Unless you adopt some form of occassionalism, it would seem that the inferences used in determining whether you were a man would not be stated in or deducible from Scripture since you'll have to appeal to something outside of Scripture in order to make that determination. Thus you would forfeit Scripturalism.

Don




First, I need to find one of those RPCGA churches. :bigsmile:

Second, I think Don is closer to the mark, and, honestly, I think Clark only touched on this question tangentially in response to critics who complained on Scripturalists principles Clark couldn't know his wife, etc. Dr. Robbins said some time ago in response to Michael Sudduth, that outside of some sound argument which avoids citing immediate "self-knowledge" or any similar notion like private revelation or anything else, he would agree that we have an opinion that we are men. MS´s objection was that on Scripturalist principles since all men are sinners and since he could not know he was a man, therefore MS could not know he was sinner. To which Dr. Robbins responded:

So if we have the opinion that we are men, then the syllogism I provided [all men are sinners, MS is a man, therefore MS is a sinner] is neither absurd nor irrelevant; it is right on target. We may or may not be correct in our opinion, but if we have that opinion, if you have that opinion, you are required to believe that you are a sinner. In addition, Paul in 2 Cor 10:5b tells us that we are to take "every thought captive to the obedience of Christ," and this would include our opinions as well as our knowledge.

Clark too was clear, that knowledge, strictly speaking, needs an account and Scripture alone provides that account where all else has failed. More to the point, he too considered many things which most take for granted as opinion, but agreed with Plato that opinion is often as useful as knowledge:

What account shall be given of everyday "œknowledge" that common sense thinks it silly to doubt? Don´t I know when I am hungry? . . . Indeed, how can I know what the Bible says without reading its pages with my own eyes? . . . But all such criticisms miss the point. The status of common opinion is not fixed until a theory has been accepted. One may admit that a number of propositions commonly believed are true; but no one can deny that many such are false. The problem is to elaborate a method by which the two classes can be distinguished. Plato too granted a place to opinion as distinct from knowledge; he even admitted that in some circumstances opinion was as useful as knowledge with a capital K . . . It is incorrect therefore to complain that the axiom of revelation deprives us of knowledge otherwise obtainable. There is no knowledge otherwise obtainable. [90-91]


And, since this line of discussion invariably gets into a question of assurance simply because if I´m not deducible from Scripture then I can´t know I am saved and assurance is impossible, Jonathan Edwards wrote:

"It appears also that the affection which is occasioned by the coming of al text of Scripture must be vain, when the affection is founded on something that is supposed to be taught by it, which really is not contained in it, nor in any other Scripture; because such supposed instruction is not real instruction, but a mistake and misapprehension of the mind. As for instance, when persons suppose that they are expressly taught by some Scripture coming to their minds, that they in particular are beloved of God, or that their sins are forgiven, that God is their Father, and the like. This is a mistake or misapprehension; for the Scripture nowhere reveals the individual persons who are beloved, expressly; but only by consequence, by revealing the qualifications of persons that are beloved of God: and therefore this matter is not to be learned form Scripture any other way than by consequence, and from these qualifications, for things are not to be learned from the Scripture any other way than they are taught in the Scripture." [emphasis mine -- Religious Affections pg 194]
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by C. Matthew McMahon
...

They answered very simply that such was not what Clark taught. They say that "men" are in the Bible, and thus they would never resort, nor did Clark, to absurdity in saying that your name has to be there. We know men exist because God created them, they have children, and they continue to exist. We don't need our name there, etc. HTis would go for anything we find that is extrapolated: trees, works of art, craftsmanship, industry, animals, creeping things, birds, the world, stars, etc.

Just an FYI from the "Clarkians."

I think Sean was correct, but your answer is related to an issue of logic. Clark held to traditional logic where the A-form (all A is B) logically implies the I-form (some A is B). So you are correct, that in saying that whatever is being predicated of "all men", is being predicated of individual men.

The "all" of traditional logic means "each and every". And so when scripture says "all men are sinners" then it clearly infers Anthony is a sinner. Anthony does not need to be found in scripture, for Anthony to understand that he is a sinner. Although Scripture does not say Anthony is a man, that's irrelevant. My opinion that I am a man is enough to convict me that I am a sinner, and so that is sufficient for me to see my need for a savior.

However, modern logic rejects the inference of the A-form to the I-form. The issue is one of existential import. So with modern logic the "all" of "all A" does not mean "every", because there may not be any A to start with! Universal propositions in modern logic may be non-existent! The absurdity of this is apparent. If the prose indicate that the subject is hypothetical, then traditional logical deals with this very easily by qualifying the subject as a hypothetical one. Modern logic can not do this, so it puts an artificial restriction on the logical inference.

The reason I bring this up is that people who think modern logic has replaced traditional logic can not extrapolate from "all men" to Anthony. They get stuck on the absurdity of existential import.

And existential import is related to the Van Til's "the one and the many". In modern logic, you can not infer a particular proposition from a universal proposition. You can not go from the "the one" to "the many" because "the one" does not have existential import.

The problem is this is an mixing of pagan metaphysics with pagan epistemology. The traditional logic, "all" meant "each and every". But the metaphysics had trouble dealing with universals, that seemed to be both "each and every" and yet "one" and couldn't explain why.

Then along comes modern logic which tried to cleverly join pagan metaphysics with pagan epistemology. Now "all" means "one" in Russel's logic, and Kant said the "one" has no particulars, so it's void. And now you can't infer particulars from universals. Ergo - existential import and modern logic.

Add to this, I believe, is some "Christian" philosophers have adopted the Aquinas faith/reason dichotomy, and conceded ground to modern philosophy on the existential issue with appeals to faith apart from reason. The said that "the one and the many" solution was an "appeal to mystery" in the unity of God.

So you see, there is a connection between Clark's traditional logic epistemology, and Van Til's solution to the metaphysical "the one and the many" problem. Clark, who literally wrote the book on Ancient Philosophy, (not to mention Thales to Dewey: A History of Philosophy ) saw that "the one and the many" was not a problem from the Christian worldview. The answer was to reject Kant and Russell's modern logic and existential import and the metaphysical confusion it caused. Traditional logic deals with epistemological issues without the metaphorical confusion imposed by Russel and Kant and others. Where Van Til's solution was that God, in some mysterious way, is the solution to the Greeks paradox of "the one and the many".

http://www.christianciv.com/VT_Diagrammed.html

So both are dealing with pagan philosophical issues. Clark just rejected that the "one one and the many" was a problem for the Christian worldview. It's only a problem from the perspective of the pagan worldview that does not have a Creator. The Hebraic view of reality never had a problem like "the one and the many" (it's a false paradigm). The pagan's were looking for a "one" while in the Christian worldview it was a non-starter. I think Van Til's solution to "the one and the many" inadvertently assume a problem that is only one from a pagan worldview perspective - maybe in reaction to people like Kant and Russell.
 

Don

Puritan Board Freshman
Well, I can't see how Anthony's post is revelant, nevertheless, I still have yet to understand how having an 'opinion' provides any positive epistemic value (or any *reason* for thinking he is a man). Why not have an opinion that one is a ball of swiss cheese instead? Neither can be justified on Anthony's Scripturalist position (though he keeps switching positions) or have epistemic warrant on other positions unless they want to concede something to empiricism - not Empiricism, or occassionalism.

I think this is a powerful objection to their position, but nothing beats the self-referential incoherency charges that have been posted, which I think can be modified for 'other' Scripturalist positions.

Anyway, I have tried to make it a point not to discuss with Clarkians so this will be my last post.

Don

[Edited on 5-28-2006 by Don]
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Don
Well, I can't see how Anthony's post is revelant, nevertheless, I still have yet to understand how having an 'opinion' provides any positive epistemic value (or any *reason* for thinking he is a man). Why not have an opinion that one is a ball of swiss cheese instead? Neither can be justified on Anthony's Scripturalist position (though he keeps switching positions) or have epistemic warrant on other positions unless they want to concede something to empiricism - not Empiricism, or occassionalism.
Don

[Edited on 5-28-2006 by Don]

Since this is an objection to Scripturalism, I'd like to know what the alternative is. What is the alternative Scripturalism that can give epistemic justification for knowing you are a person (male or female). Same standards apply. What's the answer?

[Edited on 5-28-2006 by Civbert]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by Don
Well, I can't see how Anthony's post is revelant, nevertheless, I still have yet to understand how having an 'opinion' provides any positive epistemic value (or any *reason* for thinking he is a man).

Opinions have no epistemic value, for epistemology is concerned with knowledge. Opinions, while often useful, are not knowledge.

[Edited on 5-28-2006 by Magma2]
 

Don

Puritan Board Freshman
Well since Sean has pretty much proven me correct, I'll indulge once more.

Anthony says:

Since this is an objection to Scripturalism, I'd like to know what the alternative is. What is the alternative Scripturalism that can give epistemic justification for knowing you are a person (male or female). Same standards apply. What's the answer?

It doesn't matter if there is an alternative or not. Certainly you should know this. Even if all other epistemologies failed, that tells me nothing about the correctness of Scripturalism. This is a switch and bait tactic that is also used by Cheung if I'm not mistaken.

The same standards do not apply for 2 reasons:
1) I do not hold to a deductivist or Cartesian epistemology; to critique me along these same lines would more than likely beg the question.

2) Who says these same standards would apply anyway? Remember this is your unjustified opinion and as a result carries no weight.

Sean says:

Opinions have no epistemic value, for epistemology is concerned with knowledge. Opinions, while often useful, are not knowledge.

If you'll notice, I never claimed that opinions are knowledge (another misreading on your part that usually occurs). I said there is not any epistemic warrant or reasons to suppose that one opinion has any more 'weight' than another. One does not have more probability of being more correct than another, not that one constitutes knowledge while the other doesn't. One can have reasons for believing without it becoming knowledge (on some epistemologies). As soon as you try to postulate that one opinion does have more warrant (or is more useful), then you have gone beyond Scripturalism.

Secondly, you have now become a pragmatist and as a result are trying to avoid the tasks of epistemology; however, the same refutation that is used for them can be applied to you. You say that "Opinions, while often useful, are not knowledge." Really? How do you know they are 'often useful'? What truth value does this have and how do you know it? Also, how do you determine whether the opinion that one is a ball of swiss cheese or a man is more 'useful'?

Don
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by Don
Sean says:

Opinions have no epistemic value, for epistemology is concerned with knowledge. Opinions, while often useful, are not knowledge.

If you'll notice, I never claimed that opinions are knowledge (another misreading on your part that usually occurs).


Try and read closer Don. I never said you claimed any such thing. I admit since you seem impotent to offer any real counter argument against Clark's Scripturalism that at this point you'll try anything, however you really need to try and read your opponents fairly.

I said there is not any epistemic warrant or reasons to suppose that one opinion has any more 'weight' than another. One does not have more probability of being more correct than another, not that one constitutes knowledge while the other doesn't.


I generally agree. Opinions, while some might be true and others false, remain opinions. Without some theory by which we can tell the one from the other, opinions they remain. However, I think you can demonstrate an opion is false, even if you can't prove a counter opinion is true.


One can have reasons for believing without it becoming knowledge (on some epistemologies). As soon as you try to postulate that one opinion does have more warrant (or is more useful), then you have gone beyond Scripturalism.

Some opinions function better than others (after all, look at the wonders of science :)), certainly if one is going to come to Christ having the opinion that he is a man will better enable him to see that he is a sinner too.

Secondly, you have now become a pragmatist and as a result are trying to avoid the tasks of epistemology;

In your ignorance of Clark and Scripturalism you wrongly impugn my position again. Clark met the task (singular) of epistemology squarely and found a solution based on positing the axiom of Scripture alone. Further, on all else, I'm not so much a pragmatist as a cynic. I agree with Clark already cited and outside of Scripture there is no knowledge possible anywhere.

[Edited on 5-28-2006 by Magma2]
 

Don

Puritan Board Freshman
Sean,

Try and read closer Don. I never said you claimed any such thing. I admit since you seem impotent to offer any real counter argument against Clark's Scripturalism that at this point you'll try anything, however you really need to try and read your opponents fairly.

Right, Sean. You first quote me and then respond. What was it for? A lesson in epistemology. Anyway, opinions can have reasons for being held, though they may not constitute knowledge. And that is simply what I'm asking of you.. Your reasons for holding a functionally superior belief and why it is functionally superior or useful. By the way, epistemology is concerned with beliefs, truth, and justification among other things.


Some opinions function better than others (after all, look at the wonders of science ), certainly if one is going to come to Christ having the opinion that he is a man will better enable him to see that he is a sinner too.

Do you remember what I asked of you? How do you know that some opinions function better? Is this opinion too? What can you appeal to? Why have the opinion that you are a man in the first place? Go back and reread what I wrote. You are just restating yourself.


In your ignorance of Clark and Scripturalism you wrongly impugn my position again. Clark met the task (singular) of epistemology squarely and found a solution based on positing the axiom of Scripture alone. Further, on all else, I'm not so much a pragmatist as a cynic. I agree with Clark already cited and outside of Scripture there is no knowledge possible anywhere.

Clark did no such thing, but those are nice assertions. Mind proving any of it? Such as there is 'no knowledge possible anywhere' outside of Scripture (oh and let us not forget how to prove it according to Scripturalism).

Anyway, I'm finished with this.

[Edited on 5-29-2006 by Don]
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Clark did no such thing, but those are nice assertions. Mind proving any of it? Such as there is 'no knowledge possible anywhere' outside of Scripture (oh and let us not forget how to prove it according to Scripturalism).

LOL :lol: Now we have a Van Tilian who not only asserts that Scripture is insufficient to provide the necessary information to resolve any number of biblical contradictions, which, they mystically label as not real, but also contends that the Scriptures fail to provide an adequate account for knowledge. However, Scripture does assert that Scripture alone (i.e., plus nothing) is sufficient for the equipping of the saints in all things and that if a person does not speak according to the Scriptures there is "œno light in them." We can go on and on. Manata made the same claim as you have Don, but when I asked him to show me what these other unnamed sources of knowledge were that you Van Tilians are contending for, his answer was a deafening silence. No wonder I´m skeptical about other claims to knowledge, they never seem to materialize and their advocates go mute when push comes to shove. Will that be your response too Don?

Anyway, I'm finished with this.

I suppose that´s good since all you have been able to offer was a shameful argument by David Byron which explains why Van Tilians are incapable of fighting face stabbers and first class heretics like Norm Shepherd.
 
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