Archive for the ‘human reason as source of knowledge’ Category

40,000 dogs and 200,000 cats were killed to ‘prevent’ the spread of the 1665 Plague

December 8, 2009

During the Plague of London, 1665, the death toll peaked in September at 7,265, Daniel Defoe..reports that 40,000 dogs and 200,000 cats were killed, as it was feared that these domestic animals might be carrying the disease. In fact this was the worst possible action to take, for the real culprits were the fleas carried by the black rats. In the absence of their natural predators, these rats multiplied and the plague spread.

Faith Cook, Fearless Pilgrim: The Life and Times of John Bunyan, Evangelical Press, 2008, p.245

Human solutions are not always beneficial.

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what is wisdom? Where can it be found? … it can be found only inside oneself

November 17, 2009

…what is wisdom? Where can it be found? … it can be found only inside oneself.

E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered

Whereas God says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ Prov.1.7

philosophies which claim to be based upon reason alone turn out to be elaborate rationalizations which conceal the initial act of faith upon which they are based

September 26, 2009

Every philosopher who attempts to build a metaphysic is ultimately dependent upon some ‘faith principle’…even those philosophies which claim to be based upon reason alone without any admixture of faith, always turn out upon examination to be elaborate rationalizations which conceal the initial act of faith upon which they are based. Reason cannot walk by its own light, and must seek the illumination of some principle of interpretation which reason itself does not contain. The general paralysis of metaphysical speculation in an age like our own in which philosophers are reluctant to believe in anything at all or to make any kind of venture of faith is the unwitting endorsement on the part of modern skepticism itself of the truth of the Christian view that reason is blind until faith takes it by the hand.

Alan Richardson?

A man that sets himself to reason without divine light is like a man that goes in the dark into a garden full of the most beautiful plants

September 24, 2009

Ratiocination, without·spiritual light, never will give one such an advantage to see things in their true relations and respects to other things, and to things in general. A man that sets himself to reason without divine light is like a man that goes in the dark into a garden full of the most beautiful plants, and most artfully ordered, and compares things together by going from one thing to another to feel of them all, to perceive their beauty.

Jonathan Edwards, “Miscellanies #408,” 249

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

The problem with postmodernism

September 16, 2009

Postmodernists have faith in the fact that truth is ultimately unknowable. This is their faith principle or unwarranted presupposition. It is assumed not proven (unless the different claims about ultimate reality are given as ‘evidence’ that no one can know. But one cannot know truth is unknown to others, only that it is unknown to oneself.  This fact belies their claims to be humbler that others (always dodgy ground!) by ‘admitting’, what they say all of us should do, that they don’t know.

Jim Gourlay

Nietzsche’s Perspectivalism

September 15, 2009

From now on, my philosophical gentlemen, let us protect ourselves better from the dangerous old conceptual fantasy which posits a “pure, will-less, painless, timeless subject of cognition”; let’s guard ourselves against the tentacles of such contradictory ideas as “pure reason,” “absolute spirituality,” “knowledge in itself”—those things which demand that we think of an eye which simply cannot be imagined, an eye which is to have no direction at all, in which the active and interpretative forces are supposed to stop or be absent—the very things through which seeing first becomes seeing something. Hence, these things always demand from the eye something conceptually absurd and incomprehensible. The only seeing we have is seeing from a perspective; the only knowledge we have is knowledge from a perspective; and the more emotions we allow to be expressed  in words concerning something, the more eyes, different eyes, we know how to train on the same thing, the more complete our “idea” of this thing, our “objectivity,” will be. But to eliminate the will in general, to suspend all our emotions without exception—even if we were capable of that—what would that be? Wouldn’t we call that castrating the intellect?

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, 12

This statement is the death blow to the Enlightenment and the door to relativism. Only the Christian worldview can avoid the pitfalls of both these errors. On the one hand it gives The Perspective (God’s) any and all humans lack, providing certain, absolute truth. On the other hand, this revelation is limited and requires the kind of humility Enlightenment man is incapable of, to receive it.

Nietzsche is right at least this far, man is not a pure reasoning machine as if he had no emtions or pre-commitments looking at any subject.

The loss of God and human personality

September 10, 2009

I believe that with the loss of God, man has lost a kind of absolute and universal system of coordinates, to which he could always relate anything, chiefly himself. His world and his personality gradually began to break up into separate, incoherent fragments corresponding to different, relative, coordinates.

Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, dissident, later President

Naturalism undermines induction (the premise of science)

September 8, 2009

If all that exists is Nature, the great mindless interlocking event, if our own deepest convictions are merely the by – products of an irrational process, then clearly there is not the slightest ground for supposing that our sense of fitness and our consequent faith in uniformity tell us anything about a reality external to ourselves…Our convictions are simply a fact about us-like the colour of our hair. If Naturalism is true we have no reason to trust our conviction that Nature is uniform.

C.S. Lewis, Miracles, pp.105, 109

[Lewis C.S., "Miracles:
A Preliminary Study," [1947], Fontana: London, 1960, Revised Edition, 1963, reprint, p.109] 

The futility of running from God

September 7, 2009

…the only creature that can prove anything cannot prove its own insignificance without depriving the proof of any proof-value. Any radical depreciation of man involves an equally radical depreciation of the scientific thinking which supplies the supposed evidence. (T.E. Jessop)

In other words, if you reduce man to a beast, If the brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile, then all his theories – including this one – are worthless

R.Abba, nature and Authority of the Bible, p.109

Rejecting God’s revelation and starting with reason, man is left undermining the very possibility of any knowledge at all. Faith in the God of Scripture is the precondition of any knowledge