Archive for the ‘epistemology’ Category

Naturalism & truth

September 3, 2009

…to talk of one bit of matter as being true about another bit of matter seems to me to be nonsense.

C.S.Lewis, ‘De Futilitate’ in Christian Reflections, (Fount), p88.

The transcendent nature of reason

September 3, 2009

…acts of reasoning are not interlocked with the total interlocking system of Nature as all other items are interlocked with one another. They are connected with it in a different way; as the understanding of a machine is certainly connected with the machine but not in the way the parts of the machine are connected with each other. The knowledge of a thing is not one of the thing’s parts. In this sense something beyond Nature operates whenever we reason.

C.S.Lewis, Miracles

Why should humans imagine the universe is intelligible?

September 3, 2009

It is the most persistent and greatest adventure in human history, this search to understand the universe, how it works, and where it came from. It is difficult to imagine that a handful of residents of a small planet circling an insignificant star in a small galaxy have as their aim a complete understanding of the entire universe, a small speck of creation truly believing it is capable of comprehending the whole…

(Murray Gell-Mann)

whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me

September 3, 2009

I know not what I may seem to the world, but as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Isaac Newton

No science doth make known the first principles whereon it buildeth

September 3, 2009

Because we maintain, that in Scripture we are taught all things necessary unto salvation ; hereupon very childishly it is by some demanded, what Scripture can teach us the sacred authority of the Scripture, upon the knowledge whereof our whole faith and salvation dependeth ? As though there were any kind of science in the world which leadeth men unto knowledge, without presupposing a number of things already known. ; but they are always either taken as plain and manifest in themselves, or as proved and granted already, some former knowledge having made them evident.

Richard Hooker, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity,  Book 3, ch.8

Knowledge Requires an Omniscient Knower

September 3, 2009

…there must be comprehensive knowledge somewhere if there is to be any true knowledge anywhere but this comprehensive knowledge need not and cannot be in us; it must be in God.

Cornelius Van Til, Defense of the Faith, P&R, 1967, p.41

Historicism is self-refuting

August 26, 2009

all our thinking is historically conditioned.

Don Cupitt, Is Nothing Sacred?, 2002, p.33

May I presume, then, this statement is also historically conditioned. I mean, it’s just the sort of thing white, Western academics in the late 20th and earl 21st C. typically say, isn’t it?

Is Evolution self-refuting?

August 7, 2009

With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.

[Darwin C.R, letter to W. Graham, July 3rd, 1881, in
Darwin F., ed., “The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,” [1898],
Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. I., 1959, reprint, p.285]

Can the mind of man, descended, as I believe, from the lowest animal be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?


It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-
product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true.They may be sound chemically,
but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.

Neo-Darwinist, Haldane J.B.S., “When I Am
Dead,” in “Possible Worlds: And Other Essays,” [1927], Chatto
and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209)

The contradiction between materialism and reality arises
frequently in biology, but it is most inescapable when we consider the human mind. Are our thoughts “nothing but” the products of chemical reactions in the brain, and did our thinking abilities originate for no reason other than their utility in allowing our DNA to reproduce itself? Even scientific materialists have a hard time believing that. For one thing, materialism applied to the mind undermines the validity of all reasoning, including one’s own. If our theories are the products of chemical reactions, how can we know whether our theories are true? Perhaps Richard Dawkins believes in Darwinism only because he has a certain chemical in his brain, and his belief could be changed by somehow inserting a different chemical.

Johnson P.E., “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds,” InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1997, pp.81-82

The conclusions of the mind depend ultimately on their survival value and not on their truth.

David Lack