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Posts Tagged ‘Epistemology’

Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

“The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.”  Thus reads Chapter 1, Section 4 of The Westminster Confession of Faith

Last week it was mentioned that it would be both foolish and impious of me to attempt to prove that the 66 books of the Bible are the infallible and inerrant Word of God.  The foolishness of this project, as you may recall, was found in the axiomatic position the Bible plays in the Christian system of thought. 

An axiom is a first principle, an unproven and unprovable first principle.  The reason an axiom is unproven and unprovable lies in the very definition of the term “axiom” itself.  If one were to prove a first principle, then it would no longer be a first principle.  Whatever argument used to prove the axiom would take the original axiom’s place as the new first principle.   

Some Christians may be concerned by the assertion that we do not prove the axiom of Christianity – The Bible Alone is the Word of God – supposing that somehow this puts Christianity on a shaky footing.  But this concern can be assuaged by remembering that all systems of thought – and this includes all secular systems of thought of the sort the world delights to throw at Christians – have their axioms.  In this case, the Christian with his axiom is no worse off than the secular scientist or philosopher with his axioms.  The Christian begins his thinking in one place, the 66 books of the Bible.  On the other hand, the scientist begins his thinking in another place, perhaps on the axiom of the general reliability of the senses.

In addition to it being foolish to attempt to prove that the Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God, it was also mentioned that it would be impious to do so.  “Impious” is not a term we use often, so perhaps a definition is in order.  Merriam Webster defies it as irreverent or profane.  The notion that the fallible words of sinful man are better testimony of the truth than God’s Word itself is the very definition of impiety.   

The Westminster Confession citation above refers to several passages from Scripture to supports its claims.    

  • 1 Peter 1:19, 21 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
  • 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
  • 1 John 5:9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.

It was Augustine who famously wrote, “For understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that you may understand” (Tractate 29 on John 7:14-18).  In this statement, Augustine shows himself a Scripturalist.  He attempts not to prove the Bible is the Word of God, but accepts it as true – that is, he accepts the Bible as his axiom – and his understanding of God and his works follows from this.

With all this said, let us turn to the subject at hand, which is Genesis as history.

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Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

“The work of creation is, God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.” That’s the answer the Westminster Shorter Catechism gives to the question, “What is the work of creation?’ 

It’s one of my favorite question and answer sets from the Shorter Catechism, for the same reason as the passage in Genesis on which it is based is one of my favorite passages of Scripture: it captures elegantly, and in a few words, the astonishing work of the creation of all things.

In the introduction to his commentary on Genesis, John Gill wrote,  “In the Syriac and Arabic versions, the title of this book is “The Book of the Creation”, because it begins with an account of the creation of all things; and is such an account, and so good an one, as is not to be met with anywhere else.”

Genesis is, as Gill implies in the quote above, not the only account of creation from the ancient world. The Greeks had a creation mythology, as did the Babylonians and numerous other cultures. 

But creation mythology is not limited to the ancient world.  In modern times, we have our own mythological creation account known as the Big Bang.  This account, just like the ones from the ancient world, is a garbled version of the true account of the creation of the heavens, the earth, and all that is in them as set forth in Genesis chapter 1.     

At this point, some may ask how it is I can prove that the Biblical account of creation is true and that the others are mythological and false.  The short answer to this question is that the creation account given in Genesis is part of the inerrant, infallible, 66 books that comprise the revealed Word of God.

If you ask me to prove that the 66 books of the Bible are the revealed Word of God, my answer is that not only can I not prove to you that the 66 books of the Bible are the inerrant and revealed Word of God, but also that it would be impious for me to even attempt to do so.     

Now before you think I’ve thrown in the intellectual towel and am simply trying to dodge a serious question about why I believe what I believe, let me explain this a bit further. 

The reason that I cannot and will not attempt to prove that “the Bible alone is the Word of God” is that this is the axiom of Christianity.  It would be both foolish and impious of me to attempt to prove the axiom of Christianity. 

Why would this be foolish?

Because trying to prove an axiom is absurd.  The reason it’s absurd lies in the definition of the term “axiom.” 

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RLL Ep.43: Conservatism: An Autopsy

What’s Really Behind the Capitol Hill Chaos?,” The Ron Paul Liberty Report, 1/7/2021.

Evidence Mounts of a Capitol Hill False Flag,” by Stephen Lendman, 1/8/2021.

Media & Democrats are launching second ‘war on terror’ – against Americans – Glenn Greenwald warns,” RT, 1/8/2021.

Conservatism: An Autopsy,” by John W. Robbins, The Trinity Review, March/April 1992.

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Credit: AP
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, center, smiles with his mask pulled down as he watches an opening day baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees at Nationals Park, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“New year, same old virus.  Masks on, Ohio.”  That was the cheery New Year’s greeting on the electronic message boards on the interstates around Cincinnati yesterday.

How is it that the government has managed to turn “fifteen days to flatten the curve” into over nine months of lockdowns, mask requirements, and social distancing with no end in sight?

From the very first time I heard about Covid and all the attendant liberty and economy destroying measures the experts insisted we follow lest we die the death, this entire so-called pandemic has struck this author as a psyop designed to allow wanna be tyrants the opportunity to enact measures they otherwise could never get away with.

From the standpoint of the authoritarians and globalists, Covid certainly has been a far better tool for restricting freedom and bolstering their own power than climate change. 

Compared to the threat of a supposedly killer virus which could strike you dead without warning while driving to work, climate change seemed downright boring.

Two years ago, socialist con-artist and Congress critter Alexandria Ocasio Cortez tried to scare people with her Green New Deal, eloquently warning people that, “like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”    

Queue the collective public yawn.    

But a killer virus, one that’s not merely an epidemic, but a pandemic?  Now that’s just the sort of thing to make people sit up and pay attention!  And pay attention they did.

Nearly the entire developed world went into lockdown mode in February and March of 2020.  When I first heard about lockdowns, I thought the whole idea was so absurd, so clearly a violation of people’s liberties, and so obviously destructive of the economy, that I really didn’t think governors would actually go through with them.

Obviously, I was wrong. 

Not only have public officials – including Ohio Governor Mike DeWine – embraced lockdowns, mask requirements, business closures, etc., but they have done so with great gusto and with relatively little effective pushback from citizens who are daily having their lives destroyed by their policies.

And it’s the pretty much the same wherever you go in the formerly free West.  Some places are a better, some are worse. But with very few exceptions, not only has Covid been used as an excuse to destroy liberty, but the level of destruction is continually ratcheted up.

Just today, CNBC ran the headline “Tougher lockdown restrictions likely on the way, says UK PM Boris Johnson.” 

The beatings will continue until moral improves!

It was only in November that headlines were declaring that the UK economy had suffered the worst recession in more than 300 years. 

Now, Boris Johnson wants to do more of the same thing that’s already substantially destroyed the economy of his country and the liberties of his people.

This is madness.

It’s also sinful.

But, sadly, it’s also typical of the sort of thinking that has gripped the minds of civil magistrates throughout the West.

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John RobbinsYou never know what you’re going to find when looking through old computer files. In my case, I stumbled upon this little gem of a quote from John Robbins. Here, with his typical brevity and clarity, he teaches about the crucial distinction between knowledge and opinion.

“I distinguish – as the Bible and Plato do – between three noetic states: knowledge, opinion, and ignorance. Perhaps you do not so distinguish. But why would you not distinguish between knowledge and opinion, or knowledge and ignorance? It seems to me that a refusal or failure to distinguish between these thee states can lead only to greater confusion. Knowledge is always true. One cannot know that 2 + 2 = 5. Opinions may be true or false. Ignorance is neither true nor false. What distinguishes a true opinion form knowledge is an account of that opinion: It is giving reasons. Sudduth dared me to provide any passage of Scripture that so defines knowledge. It seems to me that here are many. For example, ‘Be ready to give a reason…’ ‘To the Law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to that Word, there is no light in them.’ ‘In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ All, not some. Hidden, not available to discovery by men. The Scripture is both the content and the account of knowledge.” (Yahoo Van Til Ring, msg. 373, 1-22-99).

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It’s ten days to go until the big election, but to me it feels a bit like fourth and goal with the clock ticking down.

On the one side you have the establishment interests desperate to shove Hillary across the goal line.

On the other side of the ball, you have the American people, at least the ones who have enough sense not to support a criminal for president, seeking to push back against the onslaught of lies and fraud to make the big defensive stop.

It’s do or dies time.

So how’s this going to play out? Do the American people make the big stop, or does the Evil Empire win the day.

My Scripturalist convictions prevent me from making knowledge claims apart from Scripture and for that reason I tend to shy away from predictions. There’s that, plus I really just don’t like setting myself up to look foolish.

That said, I’m going to take a baby step out on a limb on offer an opinion, not a knowledge claim, but an opinion, and say that come Friday January 20, 2017 we’re going to bear witness to the inauguration of President Trump.

Why do I say this? Well for starters…

(more…)

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