An interesting thought

     One of the commenter’s on Dan’s blog asks a very interesting question.  “If you assume your reasoning is corrupt without ‘revelation.,’ how can you use your corrupt reasoning to determine the validity of the given ‘revelation’?”  (I hope the poster will forgive me for not using his name.  It is not easy for me to remember and gives me a “huh?” reaction just looking at it.)

     The question illustrates a very important point.  Each person must assume his reasoning is valid before he can proceed.  One cannot even argue for “preconditions” to said reasoning without first assuming the one’s reasoning valid even in the absence of those preconditions because one must use his reasoning even in arguing for the preconditions.

     This brings up something I have said before.  Calling on someone to “justify” his reasoning is dishonest.  Everyone starts with the validity of his reasoning as a premise.  Some fundamentalist christians pretend to have a “basis” for their reasoning.  But… fundamentalist christians gotta lie.


6 thoughts on “An interesting thought

  1. You’ve hit the crux of the problem beautifully.

    As to my username, it’s no problem. My name comes from a writer who lived around 50 AD. He collected odd tales, kind of a cross between Guinness book of records and the ‘world weekly news’ type fashion. You can get a collection of his ‘marvels’ through amazon:

    Here’s a link to his wiki:

    As a side note, my argument comes from Christian apologists who wrote in a book called ‘five views of apologetics’. I wrote these up for a debate I had on the uniformity of nature. Here are some notable quotes, with page numbers:

    Frame explicitly endorses such an argument, stating that our apologetic “should present the biblical God, not merely as the conclusion to an argument, but as the one who makes argument possible” (p. 220). Unfortunately, Frame fails to develop for us such an argument. Instead, he confuses transcendental reasoning with what medievals called demonstratio quia, proof that proceeds from consequence to ground.

    Five Views on Apologetics, William Lane Craig, pg 233

    Here Frame commits the informal logical fallacy of false analogy. He argues that rationalists must accept reason as an ultimate starting point. But these are not analogous bases. While the rationalist uses reason and the empiricist uses sense exerience as tools from which to construct their systems, Frame assumes both the tool of special revelation and the system of scripture, from which he develops his Christian theism. In other words, he assumes the reality of God’s existence, his personal interaction with humans, plus a specific product: Scripture. Does Frame not realize that, in the name of everyone needing a presuppoistion, he has imported an entire worldview when the others have only asked for tools?

    Five Views on Apologetics, Gary Habermas, pg 242

    What if, far from judging Scripture, this evidential method was actually taught in Scripture? Then it would seem that Frame’s entire approach would have to be seriously amended.

    However, this is precisely what we find when we examine Scripture. Over and over again, with the help of several checks and balances, we are told to test God’s revelation to us. to be reminded of just a few of these, potential prophets are to be tested according to their own predictions (Deut. 18:21-22). More than once, God gives similar tests to other gods-let them predict the future and bring it to pass so that we may see and know that they are gods (Isa. 41:21 -24; 44:7). God passed his own test (Isa. 41:25-29; 42:9; 44:24-28; 46:10; 48:5, 14). Perhaps most interesting for our purposes is that Israel was called to be his witness of these mighty historical acts of confirmation (Isa. 44:6-8; 52:6) God could have simply sent his listeners to his word, but he apparently did not think that these challenges to look at history were improper references to authority above his written revelation.

    Five Views on Apologetics, Gary Habermas, pg 245-6

    The Hebrews were not theoretical thinkers – wisdom was for them profoundly practical. To say that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” is not to make a claim about proper procedure in physics, packaging, or the culinary arts. It is a claim about practical wisdom – how to live one’s (moral and spiritual) life. The very idea of a biblical epistemology seems to me as misguided as the ideal of a biblical meteorology.

    Five Views on Apologetics, Kelly James Clark, pg 256

    Is autonomous human reasoning a bad thing? If it’s a bad thing, it is all the worse for us, because it is all we have. Although people often oppose revelation to reason and suggest that revelation is superior, there can be, in the end, no real opposition. Here is the problem; Each person must decide (tacitly or explicitly) that a purported revelation is revelation. Each person must decide that what is being said in some particular holy writ is the voice of God. Each person must decide what is being said and then what it means. And each person must decide what it means today that God said something a long time ago. At every level, human reason is operative.
    ……But surely I am the one who decides what is true or false. Who else could do that for me? Of course, our deciding does not make something true or false; that is not my point. My point is that each of us must make decisions using our best judgment about what is true and false.
    …..Every take on Scripture is interpretation – and interpretation is a function (at least partly) of “autonomous” human reason. We may damn reason in some of its restrictive forms, but it is the best (and only tool) that intellectually free human beings have to discover the truth.

    Five Views on Apologetics, Kelly James Clark, pg 262

    The Con quotes Van Til, here:
    The Protestant doctrine of God requires that it be made foundational to everything else as a principle of explanation. If God is self-sufficient, he alone is self-explanatory. And if he alone is self-explanatory, then he must be the final reference point in all human predication.
    Van Til, Cornelius. A Christian Theory of Knowledge (New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1969), 12

  2. >>“If you assume your reasoning is corrupt without ‘revelation.,’ how can you use your corrupt reasoning to determine the validity of the given ‘revelation’?”

    This is really not perplexing at all but I will try my best to flesh it out.

    First, if you assume your reasoning as corrupt why would you even try to reason in the first place, instead of just being content with said corrupt reasoning? Why fight against it for any reason?

    Right thar shows an inconsistency to what is actually perceived, i.e. reasoning validity of a perceived revelation, knowing corrupt reasoning.

    Second, as it has been stated MANY times now, “Again, I am not saying that atheists do not reason, all I am saying is that they have no basis for assuming that their reasoning is valid, yet they make that assumption. Without presupposing God, the position of the atheist is reduced to absurdity.”

    So you make the assumption that your reasoning is valid, but cannot account as to HOW you know this.

    Third, you cannot give a rational for the right reality. As Sye pointed to someone else, “We find a reality in which God exists, you, on the other hand find a reality where that is not necessarily the case.

    You see, in our reality, we can attribute things to God whom we know exists, you cannot. For example, if someone asks if X is “good,” we can make this determination by seeing whether or not it comports with God’s revealed character according to our reality. You, necessarily have another standard for goodness in your version of reality. Both cannot be “true” at the same time and in the same way.

    So when I, for example, say that worshiping idols is bad, and you say that it is not bad, how do you determine which is the correct answer since we appeal to different realities?

    How do you know whose reality is the right reality?”

    That question goes for you also.

    Fourth, you have no concept of, or deny, the term omnipotent. It has been posed to you so many times: “I am sure you would concede that an omniscient, omnipotent being could reveal things to us, such that we can be certain of them. Right?”

    It would take intellectual dishonesty to claim that God could not reveal some things to us such that we could know them for certain. Even if we conclude our reasoning is corrupt. Omnipotent, is omnipotent. I feel your corrupting the point with your autonomous reasoning right thar.

    Fifth, that brings us to a post ( in that you cannot comprehend a talking donkey, for example, but that does not mean it didn’t happen. Is it possible that God can grow grass without a Sun? Certainly!

    Sixth, the question still stands. How do you know your reasoning about this, or anything, is valid?

    Seventh, Could you be wrong about everything you perceive to know? If not, why not?

    Eighth, Let’s see if you actually address the issues here or if you resume ducking – with possible obfuscation. BTW, I am going on the assumption that you believe your reasoning is valid obviously.

  3. DAN you are incorrect on many points, Bahnsen says that the noetic effects on sin make our own autonomy problematic (we cannot put our reason above God, we cannot leave God on the dock as Bahnsen says). He justifies reason by claiming to rely on self attesting nature of scripture and on divine revelation. Both of these require us to first presuppose that we can reason autonomously (on many levels).

    As to your leaning on Sye’s “god can reveal” line, you fail to understand that when you state “reveal” you are implicitly admitting that whatever is revealed has to be filtered through our intellect somehow. In short Sye’s dodge presupposes that we can trust our own reasoning.

    Since I’m gearing up for a debate with Hezekiah, I’ll just leave it at that.

  4. Whups, that wasn’t anonymous, that was me, Phlegon.

    Again, DAN, Sye has a vested reason for not critically thinking about this (he has financial incentive). You do not. Please give some thoughts to this. When I debate Hezekiah I will hopefully be able to bring up some good points to these effects (my goal is not necessarily to convince you or Hez, but to make you all think about the issues in a different light).

  5. Dan:

         1. I do not assume my reasoning is corrupt. You pretend you assumed your reasoning corrupt before you “knew god” and received your “revelation.” But, if that were really the case, you could not be confident you “knew god” or received any “revelation.”
         2. Repetition does not make your position true. Even the christian assumes his reasoning is valid before he introduces his non-existent god into the picture. You can’t get to reasoning by any means. You have to assume it. The absurdity is when you claim that anyone has to assume a god. But… fundamentalist christians gotta lie.
         3. You seem to be confusing standards of goodness with objective realities here. When you make your question coherent, I shall look at it.
         4. An omnipotent being could force-feed you falsehoods such that you would argue vehemently that you are certain. Certainly is impossible when you cannot rule out a force-fed deception. If, as most people, you don’t require omnipotence to include the ability to do things which are logically contradictory, this is not a problem. It just means that the existence of your supposed god would make your actual certainty on anything a logical impossibility.
         5. I’m not following your link. Do you have an actual question for me, or are you sending me on a wild goose chase?
         6. This is a repeat. Each of us must assume his reasoning valid before proceeding. Anyone who pretends to “justify” his reasoning in any way, shape, or form is engaging in a sham.
         7. It’s actually possible. For example, if a god like you propose exists, it could be “beaming” illusions into my mind. I do not think that actually to be the case. But anyone who sincerely thinks about the question realizes that a force-fed illusion is a logical possibility. But it’s not worth worrying about as a practical matter.
         8. I have always address any issues you have raised genuinely and coherently. I have occasionally addressed shams on your part. But the only thing I have “ducked” is your script.

  6. if you assume your reasoning as corrupt why would you even try to reason in the first place, instead of just being content with said corrupt reasoning? Why fight against it for any reason?

    Because everyone tries to better themselves in some way. No one thinks “I can’t do 10 sit-ups, therefore, not doing 10 sit-ups is acceptable”.

    People fight (sometimes to extremes) to learn and improve and surpass their base-line abilities.

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