Saturday, September 02, 2006

Nailing jello to the wall

ED: WHat have I been corrected on? You have merely asserted that you do not believe your position to be defined by these, but in your classic phraseology, you have yet to "show" why the force of my arugment is misapplied.

SH: No, I didn’t “merely assert” my position. Rather, I carefully deconstructed your argument and drew attention to the flaws in your reasoning.

ED: For all of your words, your contra argument amounts to, "No I don't." Please forgive me if I fail to find that compelling.

SH: Notice that instead of making any effort to mount an actual counterargument against what I said, ED offers a tendentious characterization of my analysis.

ED: Your "responses" are interesting, for they do not actually deal with the logic of my posts, but retreat into propositions that have little or nothing to do with what I have written.

SH: Another assertion without a supporting argument.

ED: I hardly see how "mental causation" is fundamentally different from "material causation."

SH: If you did any serious reading in philosophy of mind, you’d be able to see the distinction.

ED: In fact, I would argue that they are exactly the same, as human consciousness inevitably derives from our material constitution.

SH: If that’s what you “would” argue, then where’s the argument?

ED: When have I denied that God created the world? All I have denied is that this creative act can be adjudicated on the basis of material processes, as you clearly assume they can be.

1.You deny that divine creation is a causal category.

2.God didn’t make the world “on the basis of material processes.” Rather, material processes are a consequence of divine creation. They are an effect of creation ex nihilo, having their basis in creation of a material world, not vice versa.

Given material processes, as a result of divine fiat, God also effects certain events via second-causes. One can find this all through the Bible.

ED: No, my objection is to philosophies which reduce the divine to materialist speculation. ALthough you would vehemently deny it, I hardly see any difference between the definition of God which you provide and that of Feurbach.

SH: To the contrary, you are superimposing on Scripture your apophatic-cum-Kantian epistemology.

ED: That is fine. I do not deny that God has made the infinite intelligible through the finite. However, the very nature of this means of self-revelation would seem to categorically preclude us from making that which finite infinitely and defnitively qualified.

SH:

1.Once again, you’re not getting this from Scripture. Rather, you’re running Scripture through your extraneous, apophatic-cum-Kantian grid.

2.You’re confusing infinite knowledge with knowledge of the infinite. One can have a finite knowledge of the infinite. Partial knowledge can be true knowledge as far as it goes.

If we need to know everything to know anything, then we know nothing—which is self-refuting.

For example, mathematicians enjoy a true, if partial, knowledge of the Mandelbrot set without being able to mentally encompass the entire set.

3.You are also assuming, without benefit of argument, that we can only know something if it is like us. That the subject of knowledge and the object of knowledge must belong to the same ontological category.

Where is your supporting argument for this assumption?

For example, do I have to be like the Mandelbrot set to grasp the Mandelbrot set?

ED: I have outlined an alternative.

SH: Where?

ED: Stop supposing that finite propositional statements can be definitive of the divine nature.

SH: “Definitive” is a weasel word. The question at issue is whether they are true.

ED: I do not see why the category of "the other" is an inappropriate example within this discussion. Within theological and philosophical discourse, this is a quite normal way of speaking of the divine in relation to that which is created. It is a category of difference. You appear to be looking for something to attack, rather than actually dealing with what I am saying.

SH: There are unscriptural as well as scriptural ways of defining divine transcendence.

A Neoplatonic or Kantian or Barthian definition of transcendence is unscriptural.

You define transcendence in a way contrary to Scripture.

ED: This is an absurdly circular argument. Upon what basis have you determined whether or not something would or would not obtain apart from the assumed property of "inspiration?"

SH:

1.For the obvious reason that if it would or could obtain apart from inspiration, then inspiration would be superfluous.

2.Moreover, the Bible predicates certain effects of inspiration.

ED: You are making causal that which, it would seem by its very nature, cannot be reduced to causality.

SH: No, you are beginning with an unscriptural version of divine transcendence, which you then deploy to quash what the Bible has to say about the process and product of inspiration.

ED: However, this merely goes to support my contention that you have ultimately delimited the divine nature by materialist conceptions of reality--hence, your reduction of inspiration to the causal frameworks of space/time. However, in doing so, you have made yourself the master of inspiration, for it is upon the categories which you have fabricated that the nature of inspiration is defined. I fail to see how one can have a more materialist conception of the divine than this.

SH:

1.The categories come from the Bible. The self-witness of Scripture to the nature of inspiration.

2.You are the one imposing on Scripture a wholly alien conceptual scheme.

ED: Well, that should be qualified as "your" elemental self-understanding of Scripture, whatever that actually means. You have chosen to look at Scripture in a certain way and, not surprisingly, you have found your conclusions waiting for you.

SH: You retreat into these fact-free abstractions. A writer like B. B. Warfield has actually documented the various ways in which Scripture describes the process and product of inspiration.

You, by contrast, present no exegetical alternative. To say something and to show it are two different things.

ED: You have yet to show why this is a mischaracterization. MOreover, given what you have said about the ability of reducing divine inspiration to causality, you have only gone to prove my contention, not overturn it and you continually profess yourself to have done.

SH: To claim that my definition of inspiration is reductionistic is another assertion without a supporting argument.

ED: According to your categories, yes, I assume it is. However, as you are not the ultimate determiner of potential categories for understanding reality, God, or the Scriptures, your conclusions are hardly warranted, and lack any substantive proof apart from appeal to your presupposed conceptions.

SH: Yet another assertion without a supporting argument. Notice a pattern here?

ED: I don't believe in indeterminism--you are forcing that category upon my responses, which will lead you to exactly the wrong conclusions about my methodology. Both determinists and indeterminists are cut from the same presuppositional cloths; they merely disagree on the conclusions, which even then are not that different when one cuts through the rhetoric.

SH: Yet another assertion without a supporting argument.

There are sophisticated models of determinism and indeterminism alike in the philosophical literature.

Show us your mediating alternative?

ED: Why? This conclusion is based upon the presupposition that God's relationship to creation can be materially reduced to causality. Being as God is not confined to causality, it is also not a necessary conclusion that God's relationship to creation need be defined along these lines.

SH: A fallacious inference. God is not confined to causality because God is a se. But the creation is not a se. Rather, the creation is contingent on divine causality for its being.

ED: No, I do not "think" that at all. What we call "communication" is what it is. However, what is there beyond our conception and usage of language that would provide us with the basis for determining whether or not our communication is "successful" or not?

SH: Do you really need to ask a question like that? To take one example: if you ask for directions, and I give you good directions, you will successfully arrive at your destination. If I give you the wrong directions, and you follow them, then you will arrive at the wrong destination.

ED: If your definition of successful communication is based upon "the Bible," then you are basing your understanding merely upon fiat, and not some supposedly objective standard by which to determine the reality of the thing.

SH: You’ve lost track of your own question. I didn’t use the Bible to “define” successful communication, but to supply a standard of reference.

ED: This argument only works from your end, for the categories through which you view me "work." As I do not presuppose these categories, they are not applicable.

SH: You like to talk a lot about alternative categories without providing any.

ED: This is all patent conjecture. After all, to begin, the autographic text of Scripture no longer exists.

SH:

1.You were the one who failed to distinguish certainty as it relates to the objective wording of the text from certainty as it relates to the subjective effect of the text on mind of the reader the reader.

Nothing the least bit conjectural about my distinction between the text and the reader.

2.And there’s nothing conjectural about a distinction between originals and copies.

ED: Next, even if it did, upon what standard would you determine that it, indeed, bore the marks of "inspiration?" The only possible answer would be either upon some arbitrary standard devised by your own thinking, or an appeal to the autograph itself--both of which terminate in exactly the same answer.

SH:

1.Further confusions on your part. How much I take for granted when debating with an opponent depends, in part, on whether the opponent is a professing believer or unbeliever.

2.This, in turn, goes to the distinction between what the Bible claims for itself, and whether the disputant is prepared to accept the Bible on its own terms.

3.The Bible does assert its own inspiration. And that assertion does not depend on having the autographic text before us since, as textual criticism has established, our extant text is quite reliable.

4.I don’t have to prove the inspiration of Scripture to prove its claim to divine inspiration. These are separate issues with separate arguments.

And when I deal with a professing believer, it should be unnecessary to prove the inspiration of Scripture.

ED: Therefore, you entire argument is based upon fiat, not of the actual, objectively determinite nature of the thing itself. As I have said before, it would appear that if one could determine the criterion for identifying the mechanism of "divine inspiration," this very identification would seem to preclude the mechanism from being the thing which one has set out to prove that it is. This spiral continues, indefinitely.

SH:

1.There are objective criteria in textual criticism.

2.There are objective claims in Scripture respecting its own inspiration.

3.There are also many lines of internal and external evidence to confirm this claim.

4.The “spiral” is generated by your unscriptural and extrascriptural version of divine transcendence.

ED: Well, before the Scriptures were composed, the community of Christ-followers was the context in which faith in Christ was developed and communicated. The so-called propositions of Scripture came after, not before, and developed out of the "being" of the church.

SH:

1.You are evidently a Marcionite. The OT Scriptures antedate the NT church.

2.The Apostles preached the gospel, in large part, from the OT scriptures.

3.The chronological priority of the spoken word to the written word, even if true, is irrelevant to our own epistemic situation.

We, living in the 21C, are dependent on a text for our knowledge of the person and work of Christ.

ED: Christian faith is in the person of Christ.

SH:

1.No, Christian faith is in the person and work of Christ—including his teaching.

2.We only have access to the person of Christ via the written record of his person (and work).

The immediate object of faith are propositions by and about Christ recorded in Scripture.

ED: The very limited teachings of Christ which were incidentally recorded in the Scriptures are important, for sure.

SH:

1.They are not limited in terms of the amount of space they occupy in the Gospels.

2.And they are not incidental to the Gospels, but strategically located. The teaching supplies the interpretive matrix for the person and work of Christ. Without the teaching material, the person and work of Christ loses all significance. It’s becomes a mute event.

Many 1C Jews died by crucifixion. Apart from the explanatory context of Christ’s person and mission, the raw events are ciphers.

ED: However, the church formed around a person, not a curriculum.

SH: It formed around a person who was known by the disciples. And they disseminated their knowledge by the spoken and written word.

ED: Yes. And who are the fools? Those who believe they can quantify the knowledge of God in such a way as to twist it to their own purposes.

SH: That’s an acontextual definition. You are citing 1 Cor 1-3 out of context as a pretext to justify your apophatic-cum-Kantian epistemology.

5 comments:

  1. Yes. And who are the fools? Those who believe they can quantify the knowledge of God in such a way as to twist it to their own purposes.

    Notice the want of an exegetical argument from that text to justify this assertion. Like I stated, this very next is a text that condemns him and proclaims him unable to apprehend and understand truth. Ever notice how folks like ED often invoke Scriptures that argue against them and draw attention to their own shortcomings? Thank you, ED for doing us this great favor.

    ED: However, the church formed around a person, not a curriculum Given your rejection of propositional language, you forfeit all rights to appeal to written church histories.

    Once again, how are you certain the Incarnation took place? How can you affirm that Christ is both God and man?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Steve,

    The title of this post was perfect. I find it amusing that E~D wants to use "logic" to present "reasonable" argumentation, then denies your argumentation and conclusions as based upon your presuppositional views of logic and reason. You see, he's irrefutable. You can't prevail with him unless you argue your position on his terms, and his terms don't allow for your position in the first place. Neat, huh?

    Gene,

    Didn't you know that you are the one twisting Scripture? E~D doesn't operate in your exegetical framework. So, don't try to use the Bible against him. Even a plain and simple text has "no face". Interesting how he thinks Scripture is acontextual and then he accuses others of "proof-texting" againt him.

    Around and around we go....

    ReplyDelete
  3. steve--

    No, I didn’t “merely assert” my position. Rather, I carefully deconstructed your argument and drew attention to the flaws in your reasoning.

    Where was this "careful deconstruction?" Obviously, I missed it (or, as I have asserted, it does not exist).

    Notice that instead of making any effort to mount an actual counterargument against what I said, ED offers a tendentious characterization of my analysis.

    Another dodge. Nice rhetorical style. Instead of concerning yourself with explaining what is occuring in the dialogue to others, why don't YOU answer the issues I have raised?

    SH: Another assertion without a supporting argument.

    And another dodge.

    If you did any serious reading in philosophy of mind, you’d be able to see the distinction.

    Which writer's of the philosophy of the mind? I have done my fair share of reading, and it has contributed signficantly to my assertions. If you believe that your conclusion is the only one represented in the relevant literature, it is you who needs to do some "serious reading."

    If that’s what you “would” argue, then where’s the argument?

    ???

    1.You deny that divine creation is a causal category.

    How is that a denial of God as Creator? Where is the substantiation of this claim? Just because I reject the category of causality as sufficient to describe the creative acts of God does not mean that I have denied that God is creator.

    2.God didn’t make the world “on the basis of material processes.” Rather, material processes are a consequence of divine creation. They are an effect of creation ex nihilo, having their basis in creation of a material world, not vice versa.

    Which leads to the exact same conclusion as I have repeatedly asserted you affirm.

    Given material processes, as a result of divine fiat, God also effects certain events via second-causes. One can find this all through the Bible.

    Second causes has absolutely nothing to do with what I am talking about. You are inevitably making divine fiat into a causal category, which is what I am questioning and which you are failing to defend.

    To the contrary, you are superimposing on Scripture your apophatic-cum-Kantian epistemology.

    As opposed to the philosophy which you impose upon it? I hardly see that your feeble attempt at personal attack is compelling, either rhetorically or in terms of force of logic.

    1.Once again, you’re not getting this from Scripture. Rather, you’re running Scripture through your extraneous, apophatic-cum-Kantian grid.

    Come on, Steve. I am sure you can do better than these pathetic attempts to malign my person by these ridiculous personal attacks. We all run Scripture through "extraneous" categories; such is the nature of human epistemology and the functional nature of interpretation.

    2.You’re confusing infinite knowledge with knowledge of the infinite. One can have a finite knowledge of the infinite. Partial knowledge can be true knowledge as far as it goes.

    How would you determine this? Upon what basis would you determine that the "partial knowledge of the infinite" is, in fact, accurately representative of the fulness it images?

    If we need to know everything to know anything, then we know nothing—which is self-refuting.

    My issue is not about knowing "anything"; it is about turning this anything into propositional statements about that which we cannot epistemologically access (which propositions require the ability to know everything).

    SH: “Definitive” is a weasel word. The question at issue is whether they are true.

    And upon what basis are you going to adjudicate whether they are "true" or not? You wish to speak propositionally about the divine nature, but you have no position from which to establish the proposition whatsoever, besides appealing to the circularity of your conception of Scripture.

    SH: There are unscriptural as well as scriptural ways of defining divine transcendence.

    A Neoplatonic or Kantian or Barthian definition of transcendence is unscriptural.

    You define transcendence in a way contrary to Scripture.


    Please.

    1.For the obvious reason that if it would or could obtain apart from inspiration, then inspiration would be superfluous.

    That is not an answer at all. You are creating a criterion for affirmation that has nothing to do with the actual phenomenon. You define inspiration upon the basis of what you believe that it should be, not on the basis of something that can be independantly verified to be so (and if it could, it would seek to be inspiration, according to your criterion). So, essentially, you have a self-refuting criterion for "determining" the nature and causal structure of divine inspiriation.

    2.Moreover, the Bible predicates certain effects of inspiration.

    Yes, that is compelling, given that it is thoroughly the product of your interpretation, not the objective, independent criterion which would be required for the proof of the thing.

    No, you are beginning with an unscriptural version of divine transcendence,

    It is unscriptural according to your presuppositions and interpretations. You have yet to show, however, that it is in fact "unscriptural" in a way that is not prey to your philosophical presuppositions about the nature of divine transcendence.

    which you then deploy to quash what the Bible has to say about the process and product of inspiration.

    The only thing I am trying to squash is your materialist conception of it.

    1.The categories come from the Bible. The self-witness of Scripture to the nature of inspiration.

    Again, this is a horrifically circular argument. You say that the categories of inspiration which you claim are relevant are "from the bible." However, as the Scriptures require interpretation, you have, per my assertion, created the criterion yourself by interpreting them in the Scriptures upon the basis of your philosophical presuppositions about what the Scriptures say, the nature of God, etc.

    2.You are the one imposing on Scripture a wholly alien conceptual scheme.

    I am willing to admit that this may be. However, from what position of objectivity would you appeal to determine that this is, in fact, the case? That which is alien to one is completely natural to another.

    You retreat into these fact-free abstractions. A writer like B. B. Warfield has actually documented the various ways in which Scripture describes the process and product of inspiration.

    Warfield, like all other writers, wrote from the perspective of his presuppositions, philosophical loyalties, etc. He is no more in a position to "describe the process and product of inspiration" in an objective way than you or me.

    You, by contrast, present no exegetical alternative. To say something and to show it are two different things.

    Indeed, they are. Perhaps you should take your advice in response to my numerous questions and objections to which you have failed to "show."

    To claim that my definition of inspiration is reductionistic is another assertion without a supporting argument.

    I have devoted several pages now to describing the ways in which your conception of the the divine, inspiration, etc. are thoroughly materialist. While you may ultimately reject my conclusions, it is unjust to assert that I have not provided supporting arugment. Anyone else reading this would agree that I have provided support for my arguments, regardless of whether or not they ultimately agree with me.

    Yet another assertion without a supporting argument. Notice a pattern here?

    Yes, I have noticed it. To the most penetrating of my questions and comments, you respond with a dodge like this. It is a disappointing trend indeed.

    Yet another assertion without a supporting argument.

    Followed by another dodge.

    There are sophisticated models of determinism and indeterminism alike in the philosophical literature.

    Show us your mediating alternative?


    I would offer no "mediating" alternative, for I would not wish to live between two materialist conceptions of God. The alternative I would offer is to begin with a philosophical system that does not start from presuppositions that God's relationship to that which is created can be reduced to materialist categories.

    A fallacious inference. God is not confined to causality because God is a se. But the creation is not a se. Rather, the creation is contingent on divine causality for its being.

    I am not arguing about derivations. My point is that if one, through propositional language, reduces the divine nature to causal, materialist categories, one has categorically equated God with that which is created by God.

    Do you really need to ask a question like that? To take one example: if you ask for directions, and I give you good directions, you will successfully arrive at your destination. If I give you the wrong directions, and you follow them, then you will arrive at the wrong destination.

    Let's assume that this is a meaningful description of successful communication (which I would question, BTW). The determination of success is based upon the ability to observe and quantify the results (the correlation between the message, reception, and application of same). Let's apply it to propositional language about the divine: Upon what basis are you going to be able to determine that these propositions have been deployed "successfully?"

    You’ve lost track of your own question. I didn’t use the Bible to “define” successful communication, but to supply a standard of reference.

    How does one determine that the "standard of reference" is, in fact, such a standard? To speak propositionally about the divine, locating the identity of this standard would be absolutely necessary, albeit impossible.

    1.You were the one who failed to distinguish certainty as it relates to the objective wording of the text from certainty as it relates to the subjective effect of the text on mind of the reader the reader.

    Nothing the least bit conjectural about my distinction between the text and the reader.


    Okay...

    2.And there’s nothing conjectural about a distinction between originals and copies.

    Alright....

    1.Further confusions on your part. How much I take for granted when debating with an opponent depends, in part, on whether the opponent is a professing believer or unbeliever.

    This is not an answer to the question, albeit an effort at personal attack.

    2.This, in turn, goes to the distinction between what the Bible claims for itself, and whether the disputant is prepared to accept the Bible on its own terms.

    But who defines what the bible is "on its own terms?" As this will require interpretation, I hardly see how such a claim is helpful to answering my question about identifying the marks of inspiration.

    3.The Bible does assert its own inspiration. And that assertion does not depend on having the autographic text before us since, as textual criticism has established, our extant text is quite reliable.

    But reliability (something which I have not even raised as an issue, BTW) is not necessarily relevant to inspiration. Alot of documents are precisely accurate in their texts in relation to the author's act of writing; yet we do not claim they are inspired. Moreover, simply stating that the bible claims to be inspired does not establish what the nature, mechanism, ect. of this inspiration actually is, which is the very question I am attempting to get you to answer (and which you--to this point--have yet to actually engage).

    4.I don’t have to prove the inspiration of Scripture to prove its claim to divine inspiration. These are separate issues with separate arguments.

    Sure, you don't have to prove that the Scriptures claim inspiration; however, you do have to prove that they claim inspiration AS YOU DEFINE IT (something which you have yet to establish).

    And when I deal with a professing believer, it should be unnecessary to prove the inspiration of Scripture.

    I am not arguing about the inspiration of Scripture, for as I have already asserted, I fully believe in the inspiredness of the Scriptures as well. But this is not the question: the question at hand is what the nature of this inspiration is, and more specifically, how you are going to prove your contention that divine inspiration can be adjudicated on the basis of causality. I am still waiting for this proof.

    1.There are objective criteria in textual criticism.

    My issue in this line of questioning has nothing to do with the textual accuracy of the text. You are distracting from the main issue.

    2.There are objective claims in Scripture respecting its own inspiration.

    But what is the nature of this inspiration? I am not arguing about the claim, only the nature of what this inspiration actually is!!!!

    3.There are also many lines of internal and external evidence to confirm this claim.

    I want you to confirm your claim about the NATURE of inspiration, not that Scripture claims to be inspired.

    4.The “spiral” is generated by your unscriptural and extrascriptural version of divine transcendence.

    For all of this, you have yet to answer the question about how you are going to establish the validity of your claim that divine inspiration can be delimited on the basis of causal categories.

    1.You are evidently a Marcionite. The OT Scriptures antedate the NT church.

    Give me a break. I am no Marcionite. Leave your petty personal attacks somewhere else.

    We, living in the 21C, are dependent on a text for our knowledge of the person and work of Christ.

    Well, there is a little something called the church also, the existence of which provided the impetus for the composition of the NT.

    The immediate object of faith are propositions by and about Christ recorded in Scripture.

    Yes, it is apparent that this is what you believe.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Translation:

    blah blah blah

    ReplyDelete
  5. Steve! Quit these personal attacks! I mean, labeling a person's comments using philosophical classifications is much worse than "Yo Momma" jokes, after all.

    Please, E~D. Personal attacks? It's petty to say that when none exist.

    ReplyDelete