Archive for the ‘evidentialism’ Category

Eye witness testimony rejected

April 2, 2013

The beginning of knowledge for the ghetto, and the clinching news for Oskar, was the return to Cracow—eight days after he’d been shipped off from Prokocim—of the young pharmacist Bachner. No one knew how he had got back inside the ghetto, or the mystery of why he returned to a place from which the SS would simply send him off on another journey. But it was, of course, the pull of the known that brought Bachner home.
All the way down Lwowska and into the streets behind Plac Zgody he carried his story. He had seen the final horror, he said. He was mad-eyed, and in his brief absence his hair had silvered. All the Cracow people who had been rounded up in early June had been taken nearly to Russia, he said, to the camp of Belzec. When the trains arrived at the railway station, the people were driven out by Ukrainians with clubs. There was a frightful stench about the place, but an SS man had kindly told people that that was due to the use of disinfectant. The people were lined up in front of two large warehouses, one marked “CLOAK ROOM” and the other “VALUABLES.” The new arrivals were made to undress, and a small Jewish boy passed among the crowd handing out lengths of string with which to tie their shoes together. Spectacles and rings were removed. So, naked, the prisoners had their heads shaved in the hairdresser’s, an SS NCO telling them that their hair was needed to make something special for U-boat crews. It would grow again, he said, maintaining the myth of their continued usefulness. At last the victims were driven down a barbed-wire passage to bunkers which had copper Stars of David on their
and were labeled BATHS AND INHALATION ROOMS. SS men reassured them all the way, telling them to breathe deeply, that it was an excellent means of disinfection.
Bachner saw a little girl drop a bracelet on the ground, and a boy of three picked it up and went into the bunker playing with it. In the bunkers, said Bachner, they were all gassed. And afterward, squads were sent in to disentangle the pyramid of corpses and take the bodies away for burial. It had taken barely two days, he said, before they were all dead, except for him. While waiting in an enclosure for his turn, he’d somehow got to a latrine and lowered himself into the pit. He’d stayed there three days, the human waste up to his neck. His face, he said, had been a hive of flies. He’d slept standing, wedged in the hole for fear of drowning there. At last he’d crawled out at night.
Somehow he’d walked out of Belzec, following the railway tracks. Everyone understood that he had got out precisely because he was beyond reason. Likewise, he’d been cleaned by someone’s hand—a peasant woman’s, perhaps—and put into fresh clothes for his journey back to the starting point. Even then there were people in Cracow who thought Bachner’s story a dangerous rumor. Postcards had come to relatives from prisoners in Auschwitz. So if it was true of Belzec, it couldn’t be true of Auschwitz. And was it credible? On the short emotional rations of the ghetto, one got by through sticking to the credible. The chambers of Belzec, Schindler found out from his sources, had been completed by March of that year under the supervision of a Hamburg engineering firm and of SS engineers from Oranienburg. From Bachner’s testimony, it seemed that 3,000 killings a day were not beyond their capacity.

Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s Ark, 150

Everthing Bachner said was true. Bachner was an eyewitness. But he wasn’t believed. He wasn’t believed because people didn’t want to believe him.

People do not believe in line with the facts. People believe what is conventional, easy, agreeable to one’s own self perception and, whereever possible, without personal cost.

People cannot be argued into the kingdom of God by human reasoning and gentle persuasion. God must confront sinful man and break the fetters that bind him to falsehood. Only the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit can change a heart of stone.

The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, both Biblical and non-Biblical, factual and circumstantial, historical and experiential, is so convincing and so complete that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in the verdict that Jesus rose from the dead

November 24, 2009

The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, both Biblical and non-Biblical, factual and circumstantial, historical and experiential, is so convincing and so complete that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in the verdict that Jesus rose from the dead, just as the Scriptures state and as Christians claim.

former Lord Chief Justice Darling

However, a biased jury would give the verdict that suited itself. Therefore the evidence alone is not decisive in any person’s verdict regarding the claims of Christ.

the question whether miracles occur can never be answered simply by experience

October 21, 2009

…the question whether miracles occur can never be answered simply by experience. Every event which might claim to be a miracle is, in the last resort, something presented to our senses, something seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted…If anything extraordinary seems to have happened, we can always say that we have been the victims of an illusion. If we hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say. What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.

If immediate experience cannot prove or disprove the miraculous, still less can history do so. Many people think one can decide whether a miracle occurred in the past by examining the evidence ‘according to the ordinary rules of historical inquiry’. But the ordinary rules cannot be worked until we have decided whether miracles are possible, and if so, how probable they are. For if they are impossible, then no amount of historical evidence will convince us. If they are possible but immensely improbable, then only mathematically demonstrative evidence will convince us: and since history never provides that degree of evidence for any event, history can never convince us that a miracle occurred. …The result of our historical enquiries thus depends on the philosophical views which we have been holding before we even began to look at the evidence. This philosophical question must therefore come first.

C.S.Lewis, Miracles, Geoffrey Bles, 1959, pp.11-12

the existence of the God of Christian theism and the conception of his counsel as controlling all things in the universe is the only presupposition which can account for the uniformity of nature which the scientist needs

October 5, 2009

Says A. E. Taylor in discussing the question of the uniformity of nature, “The fundamental thought of modern science, at any rate until yesterday, was that there is a ‘universal reign of law’ throughout nature. Nature is rational in the sense that it has everywhere a coherent pattern which we can progressively detect by the steady application of our own intelligence to the scrutiny of natural processes. Science has been built up all along on the basis of this principle of the ‘uniformity of nature,’ and the principle is one which science itself has no means of demonstrating. No one could possibly prove its truth to an opponent who seriously disputed it. For all attempts to produce ‘evidence’ for the ‘uniformity of nature’ themselves presuppose the very principle they are intended to prove.” Our argument as over against this would be that the existence of the God of Christian theism and the conception of his counsel as controlling all things in the universe is the only presupposition which can account for the uniformity of nature which the scientist needs. But the best and only possible proof for the existence of such a God is that his existence is required for the uniformity of nature and for the coherence of all things in the world. We cannot prove the existence of beams underneath a floor if by proof we mean that they must be ascertainable in the way that we can see the chairs and tables of the room. But the very idea of a floor as the support of tables and chairs requires the idea of beams that are underneath. But there would be no floor if no beams were underneath. Thus there is absolutely certain proof for the existence of God and the truth of Christian theism. Even non-Christians presuppose its truth while they verbally reject it. They need to presuppose the truth of Christian theism in order to account for their own accomplishments.

Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 103, emphasis added.

An historical fact which involves a resurrection from the dead is utterly inconceivable…no matter how many witnesses are cited

October 2, 2009

An historical fact which involves a resurrection from the dead is utterly inconceivable…no matter how many witnesses are cited.

Rudolph Bultmann, New Testament and Mythology, in H.W. Bartsch (ed.), Kerygma and Myth, NY, 1961, p.39

The Resurrection cannot – in spite of 1 Cor. 15.3-8 – be demonstrated or made plausible as an objectively ascertainable fact on the basis of which one could believe.

Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament I, 305-6

In other words, no amount of evidence would make the Resurrection plausible to a mind beholden to Naturalistic presuppositions.

Without faith in the resurrection there would be no Christianity at all.

Michael Green, Man Alive

The empty tomb of Christ has been the cradle of the church.

W. Robertson Nicolls, The Church’s One Foundation, page 150

Aquinas’ unbiblical view of human reason

September 19, 2009

…some of (the heathen), like the Mohammedans and pagans, do not agree with us as to the authority of any Scripture whereby they may be convinced, in the same way as we are able to dispute with the Jews by means of the Old Testament, and with heretics by means of the New : whereas the former accept neither. Wherefore it is necessary to have recourse to natural reason, to which all are compelled to assent. And yet this is deficient in the things of God.

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 1, ch.2

Aquinas had too rosy a view of the reasoning of fallen man. He thought natural reason, whilst unable to prove the Trinity, could prove the existence of one God. He failed to appreciate that man is totally depraved (in that every aspect of his nature, including his reason) is affected by the Fall. The Muslim, the pagan and the atheist will not, by and large, accept Aquinas’ reasons since they do not accord with their beliefs.

Strange as it may seem, we proclaim Christ from the Scripture to the Muslim and show him the very words of Jesus from the pages of the New Testament. This has a most powerful effect – more so than our puny reasonings.

Ephesians 4

Hebrews 4.12

DEAD MEN DO BLEED!

September 19, 2009

A man is convinced he is dead. His wife and kids are exasperated. They keep telling him he’s not dead. But he continues to insist he’s dead. They try telling him, “Look, you’re not dead; you’re walking and talking and breathing; how can you be dead?” But he continues to insist he is dead. The family finally takes him to a doctor. The doctor pulls out some medical books to demonstrate to the man that dead men do not bleed. After some time, the man admits that dead men do not bleed. The doctor then takes the man’s hand and a needle and pokes the end of his finger. The man starts bleeding. He looks at his finger and says, “What do you know? DEAD MEN DO BLEED!”

source

Whatever facts men are given, they will not give up their presuppositions on the basis of the ‘facts’ – rather, they will fit the facts within their presppositions. Hence, whatever evidence is given for the resurrection to a naturalist, he will always be sceptical of it and predisposed to discount it.

All is yellow to the jaundiced eye

September 19, 2009

When man became a sinner, he made himself instead of God the ulimate or final reference point. And it is precisely this presupposition, as it controls without exception all forms of non-Christian philosophy, that must be brought into question. If this presupposition is left unquestioned in any field, all the facts and arguments presented to the unbeliever will be made over by him according to this pattern. The sinner has cemented colored glasses to his eyes which he cannot remove. And all is yellow to the jaundiced eye…the natural man may accept the “theistic proofs” as fully valid. He may construct such proofs. He has constructed such proofs. But the god whose existence he proves to himself in this way is always a god who is something other than the self-contained ontological trinity of Scripture…The Christian’s process of reasoning rests upon the presupposition that God, speaking through Christ by his Spirit in the infallible Word, is the final or ultimate reference point in human predication.

Cornelius Van Til, Defense of the Faith, P&R, 1955, p.77, 180