Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Dilemma For VanTillians?

Below is the beginning of an argument still in the test stage:


It's fair to say that a key component to traditional Van Tillian presuppositionalism (of which I still number myself, though in an attenuated way) is the universal knowledge of God thesis (UKT). UKT is taken (mainly) from Romans 1. It can be stated thus:

(UKT) All men have knowledge of God.

But UKT, as it stands, is vague. Almost all sides could agree with UKT as stated, though they would also disagree with each other as to what UKT means. Consulting some standard commentaries bear this out. For example, Barrett, Cranfield, Fitzmyer, and Zeisler are representative of those who claim Paul is only claiming that this knowledge is attainable by men, not that all men have it, or that it is "in" them. Others, like Moo, Schreiner, Witherington, and probably Murray (because I interpret him recognizing his Van Tillianism, though he could fit in the latter category), say this is a knowledge all men have. Others, like Barnett, Morris, and Wright, are vague (thanks to Steve Hays for rounding up all the relevant comments from these commentators for me). Involved here is that there is some textual ambiguity in the Greek. The knowledge could either be taken to be manifest to them or in them. Both sides have a pedigree and it’s not obvious which reading is correct. Add to this that they do not specify what they mean by 'knowledge,' and whether they consider it in its post-Gettier condition or not. Nor do they specify what they mean by "all." Given the fact that many are Reformed, it's not obvious that "all" means all for them! Other views that weigh in are those like the Westminster Confession of Faith. But the statement on natural revelation is vague. It's not clear they meant to argue for an ability or a possession of knowledge. And, if they left it open, it's not clear what is meant by 'knowledge.' The positions are diverse among the Reformers, and the Reformed Scholastics (as Muller's PRRD makes clear, also cf. Sudduth's forthcoming book on natural theology). Not only that, but when interpreting Paul in Romans 1, we should beware of mapping the precisions of modern epistemology onto Paul's language in Romans 1.

As for how some Van Tillians have understood Romans 1, the knowledge of God has been considered in more detail. For example, Greg Bahnsen tries to be more philosophically precise than the theologians. This knowledge is actual knowledge, not just a disposition to know (cf. Bahnsen, VT: R&A, p.222). This actual knowledge is the basis on which men will be held accountable before God (ibid, p.438, 181). It is a "foundational apologetic insight" (ibid, 179). This position is what is used to defeat the reductio that Van Til's position implied that unbelievers don't know anything (ibid, 181, 174 n.74, 208 n.100). Their knowledge of God accounts for the fact that they know a great many things about creation, often times more things than believers. This knowledge is understood as justified true belief (ibid, p.181). Bahnsen and other Van Tillians also view the "all" here as all. That would mean infants and the severely mentally handicapped. So, this knowledge is actual knowledge all men have. So we can add to UKT an Actualist component (as parsed out in the previous sentence), thus:

(UKTA) For any human being S, S has actual knowledge of God

For our purposes, we can bracket out infants and the severely mentally handicapped from UTKA. Though I believe it presents a thorny and strong problem to the UKTA thesis, the present concern isn't to hit actualists with this specific problem. Bracketing out the above groups, I propose a more precise definition is to follow David Reiter's position as expressed in his Faith & Philosophy article on the subject at hand, (Reiter, Calvin's "Sense of Divinity" And Externalist Knowledge of God (F&P, 15, #3, 1998).

I use the UKTA acronym, though it is absent from Reiter's terminology. He used SD, as in, "sensus divinitatis." In discussing Calvin's UKTA Reiter pauses to take notice of an objection to his initial parsing of UKTA:

[1] For any human being S, S knows that God exists.

The objection is that perhaps Calvin only means "mature or adult humans."

Reiter notes Calvin's claim that the sensus divinitatis "is not a doctrine that must first be learned in school, but one of which each of us masters from his mother's womb and which nature itself permits no one to forget, although many strive with every nerve to that end."

But Reiter finds it appropriate, "nevertheless", to qualify [1] for the following reasons:

i) Even if Calvin means to assert a knowledge of God at birth or some stage prior, it doesn't follow that he means to assert that human beings possess this knowledge earlier.

ii) Apropos (i), consider a conceptus C. If C is a human, and Reiter believes it is, then [1] implies that C possess propositional knowledge.

iii) Apropos (ii), we do not know that a human conceptus even has the capacity to have propositional knowledge. It can’t see, why think it knows?

So (i) --> (iii) make it reasonable for Reiter to amend [1]:

[1*] For any sane human being, if S has any propositional knowledge at time t, then S knows at t that God exist.

If we let the term 'cognizer' mean 'human being who has some propositional knowledge,' then [1*] is equivalent to the claim that all cognizers know that God exists. And so this allows that some humans, perhaps due to being at an early stage of development, are not yet cognizers.

Reiter adds one more qualification to UKTA to account for the mentally damaged.

[UKTA*] For any sane human being (cognizer) S, if S has propositional knowledge at t, then S knows at t that God exists.

So, for our purposes, UKTA* is the actualist position we'll attribute to Van Tillians. It allows infants and mentally handicapped to have this knowledge if they are sane cognizers. But if one wants to quibble about that, it also can be read as disqualifying them. It allows us to bracket off the question about whether we can justifiably claim that infants and the like have actual knowledge, cashed out in post-Gettier analysis, that God exists. It is also not the purpose here to look at views of the UKT that understand the term 'knowledge' to mean something other than justified or warranted true belief. These other views are fully compatible with natural theology, and are not sufficient for a robust Van Tillianism. Bahnsen, Frame, Oliphant, and Van Til all take the knowledge unbelievers have to either be justified true belief, or warranted true belief (Oliphint is representative of the latter locution).

The Dilemma

Having adequately set up the position I'm bringing out the worry against, I'll now set forth the dilemma:

[1] The two positions to take on justification or warrant are, broadly, either internalist or externalist.

[2] If one is an internalist about justification or warrant, then one sets the bar of knowledge too high such that not all men could have knowledge of God because not all men have access to the adequacy of the justifying grounds of the belief under question.

[3] If one is an externalist about justification or warrant, then the "no conscious believed defeater" constraint means that not all men have knowledge of God because some believe that belief in God is defeated for them, and one cannot know what they believe to be defeated.

[4] Therefore, either one sets the bar of knowledge too high such that all men do not know that God exists, or the no conscious believed defeater constraint is such that all men do not know that God exists.

[5] Therefore, not all men know that God exist.

If [5] is true, then that presents a major problem for Van Tillians who used the muscle behind UKTA* to remove a lot of objections, and move their own position. A couple immediate problems are that the basis for all men’s guilt is now removed, and the rejoinder to the reductio about some unbelievers knowing nothing is back in play. Obviously other problems lurk in the shadows.

Possible Responses

1. I think [2] is fairly obvious, as it is even admitted by internalists. I also do not see them overcoming Bergmann's worries for internalism. Therefore, [3] is the premise to attack. Namely, the no conscious believed defeater (NCBD) constraint.

2. NCBD has strong intuitive appeal. Michael Sudduth spells out the NCBD condition this way in his IEP entry on epistemic defeaters:

On Bergmann’s view, a person S has a defeater for his belief that p just if he consciously takes his belief that p to be defeated, and a person S takes his belief that p to be defeated just if S takes the belief that p to be epistemically inappropriate. For the latter, S must simply take himself to have good reasons for denying p or good reasons for doubting that the grounds of his belief that p are trustworthy, truth-indicative, or reliable. It isn’t necessary that the person have what are actually good reasons for the negative epistemic evaluation of his beliefs. It is only necessary (and sufficient) that the person take himself to have such reasons, and Bergmann places no restriction on what kinds of considerations might play this role for the subject. So on Bergmann’s view the no mental state defeater condition (as requirement for knowledge) is really a no believed defeater condition (Bergmann, 2006, p. 163). (emphasis original)
Indeed, some may say that it is irrational to reject belief in God. And so it is. The evidence is plain and obvious. It would be irrational to deny the nose on your face, and so the same with God. Even more so. Or, so sez me. But the NCBD constraint doesn't fail if it is an irrational belief doing the defeating. As Sudduth says, "My belief that I have hands is unjustified if I believe (however irrationally) that I’m a brain in a vat, even if it’s more reasonable as a policy of belief revision to give up the belief that is less rational or less warranted" (ibid).

One possible rejoinder to the NCBD constraint is to claim that one doesn't really believe his defeater, or he knows it is false, based on self-deception. The former seems problematic as even Bahnsen allowed for real belief (but, some like Audi, take it that one only avows the alleged defeater; he only says he believes it) in the non-existence of God. The latter is more promising. How could a belief that you know is false defeat a belief that you know is true? But, there are multiple models of self-deception. It's not clear which one, if any, is correct (cf. Perspectives on Self-Deception, eds. McLaughlin and Rorty, California, 1988). Also, this view is dependant upon a UKTA* reading of Romans 1, it's not clear that that reading is correct or that this response doesn't beg the question against one's interlocutors. Moreover, the self-deception arguments are highly dependent on external causal stories (e.g., motivations), but the NCBD objection is highly subjective. All that matters is that one believe that p is defeated for him. The self-deception arguments seems to only be relevant if we move away from the more subjective accounts, then. But this seems hard to do (cf. Bergmann, Sudduth).

3. The last argument is that it seems hard to see how NCBD holds in cases like this:

(*) S believes that he doesn't exist because S is convinced by (the late) Unger's arguments, therefore S doesn't know that S exists.

It seems hard to see how (*) could be true. How could we fail to know a thing like that? But (*) seems disanalogous to cases like belief in God. It's not clear that belief in God is epistemically certain like belief in your existence is. What would the argument that it is look like? (Strong modal) TAG? But TAG, as I understand it, is something like the Osama Bin Laden of apologetic arguments. It's been bombarded with rockets and is hiding out in the caves, licking its wounds.


You will note that this is only a dilemma for VanTillians by subimplication. Really, it is a dilemma for any who hold to a UKTA* thesis, whether classical, evidential, cumulative case, or any variety of presuppositionalism. Given the high level of importance traditional Van Tillians have placed on a UKTA* reading of Romans 1, though, if the above argument is cogent (the form is valid and the premises appear to be true) then traditional Van Tillianism seems to have some worries that affect what these Van Tillians have claimed is a key component to the viability of their project. It may need some serious remodeling to keep the ship afloat, then. At least that's the tentative conclusion of this exploratory post. The good news is that I don’t think UKTA* is essential for an “attenuated” Van Tillianism. Many key, and important, insights remain in tact.


  1. I'm certainly an amauter when it comes to understanding all the distinctions. Having read Calvin recently, I do know that he believes that all men possess a knowledge of God but, due to the Fall, have no fruition in it. The Fall, as it were, blinds them to what they have so that what they posses is distorted. My sense, however, is that this knowledge does not have to pass some "bar" of what most humans might consider acceptable for God to judge them for it. That is to say that it is Sin that causes them to suppress and distort the Light they have and they are held responsible for Sin even in how it distorts the knowledge that they have.

    Probably poorly stated but that's my sense of it.

  2. It's debatable what Calvin held, and how he is to be understood, and so how he relevantly weighs in on the above argument. Men can be judged and held responsible for ignorance. There is such a thing as culpable ignorance. If the evidence is clear, then men have no reason to deny the plain and obvious. This allows for God's judgment and a denial of the UKTA* thesis. Michael Sudduth goes Calvin on this in more detail on his forthcoming book.

  3. Suppose that some men cannot know God exists because they believe something else that defeats their belief in God. But they could not believe that God does not exist because they use the term God in their expression of unbelief. So they have an idea of God in their unbelief. How would they learn about God, if God does not exist?

  4. Vytautus,

    Let's grant the OA for argument's sake. Recall that Sudduth (and Bergmann) make the point that the NCD constraint does not depend on whether a belief p is actually defeated for S, it simply depends on whether S in fact believes that p is defeated for S. Obviously, these atheists would not believe the cogency of the OA, they would believe, for whatever reason (rational or not), that it is defeated for them. You may call them irrational for this, but recall that even irrational beliefs can function as a defeater for p just in case S in fact believes that p is defeated. (You may also want to read the link to Sudduth's IEP entry on defeaters).

  5. Paul,
    Most of what you said is way over my head. But doesn't verse 18 describe the "all" in verse 19?

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

    Therefore, it is safe to say that anyone we talk to that is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness "knows God".

    Those just happen to be the same people that I preach the Gospel to.

    Do we need to go beyond this point?


  6. Hi Gene,

    I think almost all would grant that anyone (meaning any human, not anyone whoever, i.e., God, for example) we talk to is supressing the truth in unrighteousness. I am assuming you mean talk with because I could talk to my table, and I have my doubts that it is suppressing truth in unrighteousness. Talking with rather rules out concepti &c.

    However, having said that, I'm unsure what relevance it has to the argument made in the post. And, apparently Bahnsen, Van Til, Frame, Oliphint, and even you think we should "go beyond that," especially when you try to formlate a particular take on Romans 1 that seeks to support some of the more specific Van Tillian apologetic claims. So, although I grant that men suppress the truth in unrighteousness, this is fairly irrelevant to the argument in the post.

  7. Paul,

    Irrelevant? The "talk to my table" comment, now that's irrelevant since we we talking about human beings made in God's image.

    I don't think it was irrelevant. The first part of your post had to do with questions concerning "who" has the knowledge of God. I was simply pointing out that we CAN be sure that those who suppress the truth have the knowledge of God.

    That's all I am saying.


    PS did you ever see the "Paul Manata pitbull" video that I posted at http://tnma.blogspot.com?

  8. Gene,

    You can change it to talk to a man in a coma or a vegetative state. He's not supressing the truth.

    "I don't think it was irrelevant. The first part of your post had to do with questions concerning "who" has the knowledge of God."

    I didn't ask those questions. I stated that it is debated, and then I stated that the Van Tillians I listed viewed the "all" as all men whoever. If you differ from Van Til, Bahnsen, Frame, Oliphint, &c., well, on this point I guess that's a good thing. But, I wasn't addressing the view that only some people have a knowledge of God - that's fairly obvious. Hence, the point was irrelevant - though this isn't meant as a pejorative.

    "I was simply pointing out that we CAN be sure that those who suppress the truth have the knowledge of God."

    Well, this is so vague that anyone can agree with it. Of course if you're cashing out 'knowlegde' in terms of true, belief, and then some extra post-Gettier condition, then my post sought to undermine that and your comment didn't do anything to attack the argument I gave. So, in that sense it was irrelevant because the comment didn't advance the discussion.

    If you don't mean 'knowlegde' to be cashed out in some kind of way like the above, but rather you have some highly qualified understanding of it, my post addressed that too. Some interpreters of Calvin and Paul view the 'knowledge' to be a "sense" of the divine brought on by a divine sensing faculty. Or, just a true belief minus a third condition. I was not bothering with views that don't take a contemporary understanding of knowledge and I stated that in my post. So if you meant to kind of knowledge Lite, then the comment was irrelevant to the post - though irrelevant, again, isn't meant to be a pejorative.

    PS did you ever see the "Paul Manata pitbull" video that I posted at http://tnma.blogspot.com?"

    No, I'll have to check it out. :-)

  9. Paul,
    When does one stop being a Van Tillian and start being something else. Or how far can one attenuate something and not become a different creature all together.

  10. Hermonta,

    When does one keep taking grains away and finally admit he doesn't have a heap anymore?

    I don't have some cookie cutter answer here, nor do I think there is one or should be one. Someone might want to label themself non-Van Tillian because they've rejected strong modal TAG. But others, like Frame, wouldn't. I still find use in local TAs. And I think the worries in this post can be revamped without significant loss to what I take to be main features, or the most important features, of Van Tillianism.

    Besides, I can label myself how I want to! :-D

  11. In my experience, everyone else already labels Paul for him... :-P

  12. Especially relativists since if truth is just whatever is true for "me", then what is true about us is just true because it is "true for him," and thus there is no extra-mental truth about us. So, relativists are solipsists.

  13. Paul,

    I think we're on the same page now! (I think :))

    Wolfgang and I (with the help of Sudduth) are planning to write a lengthy paper dealing with some issues related to this. I'll fill you in later on the details.


  14. In the Notre Dame Philosophical Review (2007.03.16) of Bergmann's book, Richard Fumerton makes this objection to the NCBD:

    "You will have noticed that Bergmann's conditions for justified belief specifically require that to be justified in believing P one must not believe that there are defeaters for one's justification. He is well aware that many will wonder why the mere existence of belief in a defeater (no matter how irrational that belief might be) precludes epistemic justification. Although he tries hard to make the view plausible, it remains one of the most contentious issues in the book. If unjustified belief does nothing to justify conclusions based on it, why should unjustified belief destroy justification? I also wonder if a little philosophical sophistication can't introduce into one's doxastic system the relevant defeaters. When I contemplate the fact that I have no metajustification and no way of getting metajustification for believing that a belief of mine is reliably produced, for example, that fact seems to me to be a relevant defeater for the belief. But, of course, that is just a way of emphasizing the internalist's conviction that the pedigree of a belief, when one has no way of discovering that pedigree, can't get one any interesting sort of justification. Again, that is not to suggest that one should embrace the kind of access requirements that lead to regress. It is, rather, to suggest a way of testing proposed accounts of justification. When satisfying X without having any way of discovering that fact leaves one no more assured of the truth of one's belief that p, that is a sure sign that one shouldn't have identified satisfying X with having (interesting) epistemic justification for believing p. I remain convinced that all externalist accounts of justification fail this test."

    I think studying Sudduth's paper gives the resources to deal with Fumerton's objections here.

  15. I'm definitely going to be reading this post again, but a question or two on how this affects apologetics.

    1) As I'm somewhat slower intellectually than I'd like to be, I can't quite see how this is a problem for presuppositional apologetics in general. All I can gather is that you'd leave out a few comments about how your opponent really knows God exists (or at least qualify your statement somewhat). What else would change?

    2) I'm currently finishing off an e-mail debate (and I use the term loosely) with an atheist (he claims to be agnostic, but I can't see how you make negative statements about any potential god, as he claims all religions are man-made, so he rules out any possible deity revealing himself in history, he appears to be a materialist, so that rules out a non-material god, and so on). If the main thing I was doing is saying that his worldview doesn't give him the ability to make ethical claims, does your argument affect me at all?

    3) Also, I really have no clue how to actually execute a conversation (by e-mail or in person) that is presuppositional, and the fact I'm not sure how much of a problem your argument is for presuppositional apologetics brought that to my attention. Any chance you could write a post on it, host a seminar, teach a class, or do something along those lines? I feel like an arm chair apologist, I can sit in my chair (literally) and think about having a debate with some mythical non-Christian, but I don’t have a clue as to what I would really do. I have no methodology, it’s all ad hoc.

  16. Sean,

    1. It only poses a problem for those presuppositionalists who believe in somehting like UKTA*. This is especially problematic when UKTA* is used to support claims about how unbelievers can have knowledge, or any other use it has in your apologetic. As my quotes demonstrate, Bahnsen took the universal knowledge position to be a key assumption of Van Tillianism.

    2. No.

    3. You don't need to execute a "presuppositional dialogue." Unfortunately some Van Tillians have made themselves useless by responding to honest questions about something with something like: "Oh yeah, well you can't make sense of brushing your teeth because of the problem of induction."

    Frame wisely notes that apologetics is person releative. If you have some cookie cutter method that you will use on all people whoever, then you're going to turn people off. You'll end up steering the discussion to "preconditions" because that's all you know how to do. Then, as almost all presuppositionalists know, you'll quickly lose an audience. Then you'll go and brag to your friends in your presupp ghetto about how you "rocked!" this guy because you (think you) showed that he couldn't provide the preconditions necessary for drinking water. He got turned off, but hey, "You shut his mouth." Proof isn't persuasion, after all.

    Go to work, school, whatever. Love your neighbor. At times, you'll be called upon to give an answer for the hope you have. Different questions require different answers. If the debate develops, then you may eventually get into presuppositions.

    God gave the church many good thinkers. And we can plunder the Egyptians by studying non-Christians. Study them all. If God's existence is so obvious, a lot of arguments should work.'

    Don't be a specialist. Be an MMA apologist. Some guys are good at stand up, so take 'em down and ground and pound them. Some are good grapplers, so develop your sprawl and your striking.

  17. Paul,

    Could I still use the OA and call myself a Vantillian, or am I lying to myself?

  18. Vytautus,

    I don't see why not. I think you know better than me what to call yourself.

  19. Very nice post!

    However, I fail to see what remains of Van Tilianism if one forfeits what you call the strong modal claim of TAG (which is the claim that God is the necessary precondition to knowledge (ie., one must presuppose God)) and forfeit "UKTA*".

    I don't think it resembles presuppositionalism much, certainly not Van Til's.

    What reasons do you have for holding on to the label "presuppositionalist" over, say, Reformed Epistemologist?

  20. Red Monkey,

    Frame doesn't hold to TAG, most sophisticated contemporary Van Tillians don't.

    I just don't see what the falsity of UKTA* destroys that some minor revamping wouldn't get around leaving a ton in tact.

    One can still argue that the Reformed worldview is the best presuppositon for a worldview, though not prove it with some kind of epistemic certainty. All the bells and whistles of my worldview account for all the various problems and philosophical questions than other worldviews, though I don't say I can prove this by some global TAG.

    One can still have his exegesis, his theology, drive his apologetic, rather than vice versa.

    I also don't see Ref. Epistemology has inconsistent with Van Tillian presuppositionalism, but rather supportive, compatible (see some of James Anderson's stuff on this).

  21. Hey Paul,

    Have heard the audio on epistemology by William Lane Craig?

    The description William Lane Craig considers how the philosophical study of knowledge (epistemology) illuminates the validity of religious belief. Craig assesses how evidence, pragmatism, justification and warrant relate to religious belief and provides a description and analysis of Alvin Plantiga's 'Reformed Epistemology'.

    I'm curious of your thoughts.

    Get mp3 here.


  22. Hey Mark,

    I don't have any major problems with the lecture - it was a competant, good introduction to religious epistemology.

    Of course I'd quibble with some other things, like his invoking Molinism, calling some people open and honest seekers of the truth (he called them the "good soil" Jesus spoke of). He mentions free will as an answer to the PoE. So, I'd siagree with the usual suspetcs. But as far as his lecture on religious epistemology, it was good. There's stuff that got left out, but, again, it's introductory.

  23. Paul,

    Who else holds to this attenuated Van Tillian position? Have you summarized it previously on tblog? I always thought Frame was a bit softer on some issues than Bahnsen.

  24. David,

    I've not summarized it. I'm unsure who holds it, but some are close. I'm sure some hold things I don't, vice versa.

    Perhaps Frame was "softer" than Bahnsen, but that might just be a euphimism for "more careful" than Bahnsen.

    I'd view Van Tillianism like Calvinism. There's differences among Calvinists. Of course, people are free to define Calvinist as those who hold explicitly to the latest edition of the Institutes, but that's uninteresting.

    At the end of the day, if one insists that Van Til requires TAG and these specific views on God's knowledge, and so boots me out to keep the club "pure," then all this means is that some people hold to a beaten position. It's cutting off the nose to spite the face. So, they lose me and get what they want. But, they'd seal their fate and become totally irrelevant like Clarkianism.

  25. Well I must say the Fristian objection you alluded to in an earlier post certainly has me rethinking TAG regarding the preconditions of intelligibility being impossible without belief in the Christian God. Does your approach modify TAG or reject it altogether?

  26. I like James Anderson's work on TAs



  27. Not sure what you mean by "it's debatable what Calvin held..." regarding the issue of man's knowledge of God.

    I'm assuming you've looked at Oliphint's "A Primal and Simple Knowledge" in Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes
    Essays and Analysis
    (P&R, 2008)

  28. Jeff,

    i) I thought it was fairly obvious.

    ii) Yes. In fact, I have read everything Oliphint has written or edited - at least bookwise. And?

  29. i) I thought it was fairly obvious.

    I guess anything could be debatable, but I simply don't think you are correct on this point. You were clear, but you give no reason why you would state such a thing.

    ii) Yes. In fact, I have read everything Oliphint has written or edited - at least bookwise. And?

    I was just wondering.

    BTW: Do you have any exegetical argument that Romans 1 should not be taking the way Reformed theologians, for the most part, have always understood it.

  30. Jeff,

    1. Because I've surveyed some of the field, and had conversations with people more knowledgable than either of us on it. For example, stay tuned fro Sudduth's book on natural theology.

    2. It is a myth that "Reformed theologians for the most part have always taken it to mean what Bahnsen thought it did. You would have to show a lot. Just because they have said that "all men know God" doesn't mean that they meant "all men, infants, metally handicapped, etc" have a "true belief and then an extra post-Gettier constraint attached." So, be careful of anachronisms. Also, I pointed out that a survey of *the best* commentaries on Romans 1 are divided. I agree that *some* contemporary Reformed theologians influenced by Bahnsen have taken it that way, but not all, I'm not even sure "most."

  31. I'm assuming, because it is what I'm asking for, and you are mentioning his fortcoming work, that he will have an exegetical argument?

    Even though I (at seminary) would have the resources at my finger tips, I simply do not have the time to look into them right now (I'm taking a homiletics class right now). Although, this coming semester I do have an apologetics class, and at this point need a paper topic. :)

    I would be under the impression that most theologians or exegetical (i.e. biblical) scholars writing on Roman 1 and the issue of man's knowledge of God, wouldn't necessarly address "infants, metally handicapped, etc." I would think earlier writers (most of them being pastors) would address this under pastoral theology. But, I'd have to check into that myself.

  32. I don't think he makes an "exegetical argument" but he makes points that are clearly releveant *for* an exegetical argument.

    The other issue is that when reading commentaries you need to be sure to not impute certain philosophical constraints on them.

    Paul uses the *word* "know," and so they use the *word* "know" too. None of this tells us how they *cash that out*.

    If you read the *word* "know" and *take it to mean* that Paul or the commentators mean "true belief" and then some extra post-gettier constraints attached to that, then you need to demonstrate that. I dare say that would be quite hard because the commentaries I've seen do not attempt to discuss this.

    Recall that my argument was directed to *one way* that "know" was understood to mean, that of the JTB analysis. I argued that *this view* of "know" would have to be wrong whether one was internalist or externalist.

  33. You might want to check out Doug Kelly's new Systematic Theology.

    I do not know where he stand in the apologetics field, but he has a chapter which covers the following:

    Knowledge of the Triune God through Creation and Conscience .....129

    Appendix I – Other religions as Viewed by the Old Testament .....181

    Appendix II – Theologoumenon: Are the Pagans, who Lived Before the
    Gospel of Christ Came to their Culture, Condemned to Destruction, Since their Religions were Not
    True Bearers of the Salvation of God in Christ? ......211

  34. And Kelley meant "know" in these sense of JTB? or did he just vaguely say "know." Well, as I said, MY POST ADDRESSED THAT.

    You're simply being lazy now, Jeff Downs.

  35. Paul, it seems as though Bahnsen does deal with the issue of JTB in his Analysis, which would apply to infants. Would you say that infants or the mentally handicap do not know God, in the sense of JTB?

  36. Jeff,

    Bahnsen does not deal with this issue. Not only that, his analysis of knowledge is severely deficient. JTB's not a correct account. But, if you think he does, please point out the exact page numbers that you think help your case.

    Furthermore, both Bahnsen and Oliphint conveniently side-step the issue of infant knowledge. They both say that they believe infants have it but both fail to spell out how, in even the most cursory way, they have it.

    Finally, are you suggesting Paul meant JTB when he said "know?" How would you exegete that?