Sean Gerety has cobbled together another reply:
”In spite of Hays’ gross mischaracterization of Clark, you’ll note that Clark clearly differentiates the three divine Persons simply because each Person does not think precisely the same set of thoughts. If Clark were a modalist, as Hays falsely charges, then all three Persons would think exactly the same thoughts simply because God would be numerically one Person. Each of the three ‘Persons’ would be different expressions of one Person.”
This is inept on several grounds:
i) A modalist does distinguish the persons of the Trinity. Modalism doesn’t deny the existence of personal distinctions in the Godhead.
What modalism denies, rather, is a distinction between the immanent Trinity and the economic Trinity. Modalism distinguishes between appearance and reality. God is apparently Trinitarian, but really Unitarian.
ii) So the question at issue is not whether Clark differentiates the persons, but his principle of individuation. On Clark’s model, what kind of distinguishing thoughts differentiate one Trinitarian person from another? Here are some of Clark’s examples:
“Though they [the Persons of the Godhead] are equally omniscient, they do not all know the same truths. Neither the complex of truths we call the Farther nor those we call the Spirit, has the proposition, ’I was incarnated.’ This proposition occurs only in the Son’s complex. Other examples are implied. The Father cannot say, ‘I walked from Jerusalem to Jericho.”
Notice that these are propositions about the world, not propositions about God in himself. They involve God’s economic relations. God’s relation to the world.
That principle of individuation reduces the immanent Trinity to the economic Trinity–which is classic modalism.
iii) At this point, the only possible way to rescue Clark from modalism is to resort to pantheism. If you argue that God is identical with the world, then economic Trinitarian distinctions would be equivalent to immanent Trinitarian relations.
Either way you carve it up, Clark’s position is heretical. It’s just a choice of heresies: either pantheism or modalism.
“So much for Hays’ charge that Clark was a modalist.”
And so much for Gerety’s countercharge that Clark was not.
“As far as Hays’ even wilder charge that Clark is guilty of ‘pantheistic idealism’ for defining a person as a congeries of thoughts, I suppose Solomon was also guilty of ‘pantheistic idealism’ when he wrote; ‘For as a man thinks within himself, so he is.’ ”
i) Notice that Gerety doesn’t attempt to directly refute my charge. But my charge follows from a premise supplied by Clark. If a human being is reducible to a set of divine ideas, then a human being is consubstantial with the Godhead.
ii) Quoting Prov 31:7 is no counterargument to the charge of pantheistic idealism, for Clark and Gerety construe the passage idealistically. So you end up with a theistic version of objective idealism–a la Berkeley.
iii) It’s also striking that Gerety is too incompetent to even exegete his prooftext. Here is the complete verse:
“For he is like one who is inwardly calculating. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you” (ESV).
Notice that this verse sets up a contrast between what people say and what they actually think (to themselves). That involves a dualistic contrast between the spoken word and the private thought.
Yet idealism is monistic. So this is not a prooftext for idealism. Just the opposite.
“Of course, since no two people think precisely the same thoughts, no two people are the same person.”
i) That doesn’t rescue Clark from the charge of pantheistic idealism. One human being may have a different set of thoughts than another human being, but ultimately, in Clark’s ontology, human thoughts are divine thoughts. God’s concept of this or that human being.
ii) Moreover, how does Gerety even know about other people or other minds? What’s his point of access?
“Obviously this last accomplishment is something intolerable to confused Vantilians like Hays where God is said to be one Person and three Persons at the same time.”
i) I invite Gerety to quote me on that. Let him document where I ever said that.
ii) In addition, it’s meaningless to say what a timeless God is like or unlike “at the same time.”
What does Gerety’s denial amount to? If he denies that God is one person and three persons “at the same time,” does that stand in contrast to what God is like at different times? Is that Gerety’s distinction?
“Indeed, no man can learn what the Bible teaches through the use of his senses. Contrary to Hays, this is not a view exclusive to Scripturalism. Paul said, ‘But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Cor 2:14). The things of God are ‘spiritually’ and not, as Hays would have us believe, physically or sensually discerned. Hays seems to think men learn with they eyes in their heads and even come to Christ via his untenable and unbiblical theory of ‘sense knowledge’.”
The problems multiply for Sean’s position:
i) The very paragraph I quoted is a sensory object. Sean typed this paragraph on a computer keyboard, the posted it on his blog. The Internet is a sensory mode of communication.
Sean had to type visible letters, composing visible words.
ii) Sean quotes 1 Cor 2:14. Hmm. That comes from a letter which Paul wrote (or dictated) to the Corinthians. The process involves the production of a visible text. Inscribing letters on papyrus. The letter was then read aloud to the Corinthians. The lector used his eyes to read Paul’s letter while the audience uses their ears to hear the recitation.
iii) Sean also quotes from an English version of 1 Cor 2:14. In particular, the KJV.
How did Sean become acquainted with the KJV? Did he read it?
Of did the Holy Spirit upload the KJV of 1 Cor 2:14 directly into Gerety’s mind? Is the Holy Spirit a KJV-Onlyist?
When a Catholic quotes from the NJB, or a feminist quotes from the TNIV, or a cultist quotes from the NWT, is the Holy Spirit uploading different translations?
iv) How did Sean acquire his knowledge of English? When the Holy Spirit uploads 1 Cor 2:14 directly into Gerety’s mind, does the Holy Spirit also upload a working knowledge of Elizabethan English? Is this like “Spock’s Brain,” where McCoy acquires instant knowledge of brain transplant surgery through a neural interface?
v) Does the Holy Spirit upload the complete text of Scripture directly into the mind of every Christian?
vi) On a Scripturalist epistemology, how do English words correspond to Greek and Hebrew words? And how do Greek and Hebrew words correspond to concepts?
vii) Notice that Gerety doesn’t actually bother to exegete his prooftext. He makes no effort to demonstrate that Paul is setting up a contrast between what is spiritual and what is physical.
The actual point of contrast is between the regenerate and the unregenerate, not between the material and the immaterial. Paul himself made use of physical materials to convey 1 Cor 2:14 to the Corinthians. He dictated written words, to be seen or heard.
“Notice, those who saw Jesus with their eyes, heard Him teach, witnessed His miracles, and who were perhaps even healed by the touch of His hand, all drew the wrong conclusion about who Jesus was with the exception of Peter.”
But Jesus himself appeals to his words and works:
“I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me” (Jn 10:25).
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (Jn 14:11).
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (Jn 15:22).
And what about the folks who “drew the wrong conclusions” from his words and works? Are they culpable? Why would they be culpable if they can’t learn about Jesus from his words and works?
To the contrary, it’s because these sensory media convey genuine information about Jesus that his listeners (to his words) or eyewitnesses (to his works) are blameworthy if they respond in disbelief.
“Did Peter simply have better eyesight whereas the rest needed glasses? Were his auditory nerves more sensitive while the rest were in need of hearing aids? Of course not. Jesus said that God the Father had revealed the truth about Jesus immediately to Peter’s mind and to the saving of his soul.”
Of course, Peter was an apostle. We expect Peter to be a recipient of divine revelation.
Does Gerety take the position that every Christian is privately inspired? If doctrinal truths a directly revealed to every Christian, then the Bible is not the only source of knowledge.
Biblical knowledge is mediate knowledge, not immediate knowledge. Our knowledge of revealed truths is mediated by the instrumentality of the written word.
“Jesus said that Peter did not come to this knowledge by the means of ‘flesh and blood,’ which is just another way of saying Peter did not come to the truth of Christ through Hays’ empirically discerned and oxymoronic ‘sense knowledge’.”
Didn’t come to which truth about Christ? Didn’t come to any truth about Christ?
Does Gerety take the position that Peter couldn’t learn anything about the teaching of Christ by hearing him preach the Sermon on the Mount? Does Gerety take the position that Peter couldn’t learn anything about the mission of the Holy Spirit by hearing Christ deliver the Upper Room discourse?
On Gerety’s view, why did Jesus ever speak? Ever open his mouth? Why did Jesus ever perform a miracle?
To draw a distinction between sense knowledge and saving knowledge does nothing to salvage Gerety’s position.
Did I ever equate the two? No. There’s an elementary distinction between knowing the truth and responding appropriately. The devil is a very erudite theologian. The devil is not an unbeliever because his knowledge of theology is deficient.
Rather, the devil is simply defiant. He rebels against a known truth. Sins against the light.
“Besides, and according to Jonathan Edwards, ‘light and knowledge is always spoken of [in Scripture] as immediately given of God,’ and if immediately given, then it follows that ‘light and knowledge’ cannot be mediated through the senses.”
i) If all knowledge is immediately given by God, then the Bible is not the only source of knowledge. Indeed, on that view, the Bible is not even a partial source of knowledge.
ii) Does Scripture always speak of knowledge as immediately given by God? The claim is self-refuting. If Edwards is appealing to Scripture, then he is dependent on Scripture rather than immediate knowledge.
“Edwards would have little in common with Hays.”
Edwards is not my rule of faith. And claiming that Edwards says Scripture says something is not the same thing as documenting what Scripture actually says.
That’s a claim about Scripture, not a claim from Scripture itself.
“The above is one of many pinaetas Hays has formed in his own mind and for his own destructive amusement. Too bad it has nothing to do with the Scripturalism of Gordon Clark. Nowhere have I said that we learn what the Bible teaches through ‘innate knowledge’.” Nowhere has Clark said that we learn what the Bible teaches through ‘innate knowledge’.”
For someone to prides himself on his logicality, it’s ironic to see how clueless Gerety is. Was I imputing that position to Sean? No. Was I imputing that position to Clark? No.
Rather, I was using a standard form of argument: process of elimination.
How does a Scripturalist know Scripture? If he denies sense knowledge, then what remaining options are available to him?
“Clark did argue that all men possess the apriori or innate equipment that makes knowledge possible. For example, in his book, The Biblical Doctrine of Man, Clark makes an extended argument that the image of God in man is logic and the forms of logic make up the architecture of man’s mind and which presupposes communication between God and man, man and man, and even righteousness and sin.”
Notice that Sean is fudging. By his own admission, man does possess innate knowledge of logic.
But in that case, Scripture is not the only source of knowledge. And this is not a trivial exception.
“We also learn in Romans that men also have God’s law written on their minds and that even apart from the revelation of the law given to Moses, their conscience bear witness to the Law as ‘their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them (Romans 2:15)’.”
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this is the correct interpretation of Rom 2:15 (pace Cranfield, Jewett, Wright), this would involve another major exception to Scripturalist epistemology.
That’s a classic form of natural law theology. Thomas Aquinas would appreciate Gerety’s concession.
According to Gerety, man enjoys innate knowledge of logic as well as innate knowledge of morality.
Gerety has now torpedoed his Scripturalist epistemology by two fatal concessions.
“Quite apart from the revelation of Scripture it would be impossible to know anything about the apriori in man.”
That doesn’t follow from what Gerety previously said. Quite the contrary. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Scripture vouches for man’s innate knowledge of logic and morality, this doesn’t mean it would be impossible to know about our a priori logical or morality apart from Scripture.
Indeed, if we possess an innate knowledge of logical and morality, then we don’t need Scriptural revelation to that effect. That, at most, would be confirmatory.
Apart from Scripture we might not know their source of origin, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t know the end-product. Even if we didn’t know that our innate knowledge was innate, we’d still possess innate knowledge.
Knowing about knowledge is second-order knowledge. Not to be confused with the primary object of knowledge.
“I hardly think even Hays would want to replace the Biblical apriori for, say, Kant’s categories?”
In what sense is innate knowledge a Biblical “a priori”? If it’s innate, then it’s not supplied by Scripture. At best, Scripture corroborates this phenomenon or identifies the source.
It’s given in Scripture in the sense that Scripture (allegedly) mentions it, but it’s not given by Scripture, as if Scripture were the source.
Sean is trying to play both sides of the fence. The result is to fall on one side, then the other side.
If Scripture is the only source of knowledge, then no knowledge can be innate. If some knowledge is innate, then Scripture cannot be the only source of knowledge. There is no middle ground.
“But, who knows? Perhaps Kant’s categories are ‘properly basic’ and constitute ‘knowledge’ for Hays as well.”
i) Sean hasn’t shown that I subscribe to Reformed epistemology.
ii) And even if I did, properly basic beliefs are not equivalent to knowledge in Reformed epistemology.
One of Sean’s many problems is that he can’t deal with real live opponents. That would require him to think on his feet. And he has no capacity to do that.
Instead, Sean begins with a generic position like empiricism or Reformed theology–not that he even has an accurate grasp of the generic positions.
He then tries to pigeon hole his opponent into one of these generic positions, regardless of whether that’s an accurate description of his opponent’s position.
This makes it easier for Sean. Sean needs all the crutches he can reach for.
It has nothing to do with what I actually believe, or Manata, or Sudduth.
“I will say that somehow and somewhere Clark’s critics seemed to have picked up the idea that Clark argued that all true propositions are innate in man and that coming to the truth in Scripture is merely a stimulus for recollection of propositions already present or residing within man. I don’t know if that is the cause of Hays’ error here, but I suspect it is.”
Case in point. Notice that Sean isn’t responding to anything I actually said. He can’t point to anything I said to bear out this contention.
Sean keeps tilting at windmills because he’s too incompetent to deal with a real live opponent. Sean can’t think for himself. Sean can only regurgitate the arguments of Gordon Clark and John Robbins.
Unless something is written down on his cue cards, Sean is helpless to respond.
“What Clark denied is that knowledge is mediated through the senses and that so-called ‘sense knowledge’ is nothing more than an unsupported and giant petitio.”
Consider that sentence. Sean typed that sentence on a computer keyboard, then posted it on the Internet. That sentence is, itself, a sensory object.
The sentence that “sense knowledge is nothing more than an unsupported and giant petitio,” is, itself, a sensory object. Hence, Sean’s assertion of a petitio is, itself a petitio.
For someone who fancies himself a Christian rationalist, you’d be hard put to find someone quite as obtuse as Sean Gerety. He’s like a bird that keeps flying into the same window.
The bird hits a window. Is momentarily dazed. Then it flies back into the window a second time, and a third, and a fourth…
Poor little Gerety keeps banging his birdbrain against the same window. Thump, thump, thump. Bump, bump, bump. He can’t kick the habit of typing self-refuting statements. That’s because Scripturalism is incoherent. There’s no consistent way to argue for Scrituralism.
He’d be safer in a cage. Barring that, perhaps we could buy him a helmet.
“We know the above saints existed and still exist because the Scriptures say so.”
Which ducks the question of how Sean can know what the Scriptures say.
What is Sean going to do? Quote the King James Bible? Yeah, that’s a great way to prove Scripturalism.
“The saints listed above are accounted for in accordance with the axiom of the Christian faith; the Scriptures.”
But Sean can’t know what the Scriptures say. Heck, Sean can’t even know if the Scriptures exist. He can only opine, which is indistinguishable from sheer ignorance.
“Does Hays really believe the Scriptures are some kind of paper pope that he can parade around when he’s pretending to do ‘apologetics’?”
Scripture is my paper pope, while Robbins is his paper pope. I like my pope better than his.
“Rather than ink marks on the pages of a black book, the Scriptures are the eternal thoughts of God who alone is Truth.”
And how do finite creatures access the eternal thoughts of God? Is Sean God? Is Sean’s mind God’s mind?
The Scriptures are not God’s eternal thoughts. The Scriptures are a set of writings. That’s why they’re called “scriptures.” They inscripturate revelation.
Moses wrote the Pentateuch (e.g. Exod 24:20). Luke wrote the gospel bearing his name (Lk 1:3). John wrote the gospel bearing his name (Jn 21:24). John wrote Revelation (e.g. Rev 1:11). Paul wrote Romans (Rom 15:15).
The Scriptures are a storage and retrieval mechanism. That’s how we access God’s revelation to Israel. That’s how we access God’s revelation to the church. That’s why God inspired prophets and apostles to commit his revelations to writing.
“Hays seem to be under some delusion that if knowledge is not acquired through the senses then no knowledge is possible at all.”
Which I never said or implied. But the Bible is a sensory object. If sense knowledge is impossible, then the Bible is unknowable.
“If Hays’ arguments (or, better, assertions) were true, then God could also know nothing for the simple reason that God has no sense organs.”
As usual, Sean is burning a straw man. Sean can’t handle a real live opponent.
For once, Sean says something I agree with. I commend his self-assessment. For a fleeting moment of lucidity, he nails his own position for what it is.
“First, Hays claims to know through observing 999 ravens that 999 ravens are black. The problem is, Hays’ observations do not permit him to conclude anything true about ravens or anything else for that matter.”
Of course it does. It permits me to conclude that 999 ravens are black. As a result of observing 999 black ravens, I know something true about ravens: to wit, at least 999 ravens are black.
That’s something about ravens I would not have known apart from observation.
“The most he can say is that some ravens are black, but he can never know if the proposition ‘ravens are black’ pertains to all ravens that are now, were, or forever more will be.”
Let’s see. What did I originally say? Sean even quotes me. I said:
“That doesn’t tell me that all ravens are black, or even that most ravens are black. But it does tell me that some ravens are black.”
How does Sean respond to that statement? He says:
“The most he can say is that some ravens are black, but he can never know if the proposition ‘ravens are black’ pertains to all ravens that are now, were, or forever more will be.”
Isn’t that a paraphrase of what I originally said? Did I claim that enumerative induction can justify a universal inference? No. In fact, I explicitly said otherwise.
How does Sean respond? He objects to my statement by essentially paraphrasing my statement. Can you get any dumber than that?
But this is Sean’s problem. Because he can’t think for himself, he can’t adapt to a novel argument. All he can do is recite his cue cards. If it’s not in his cue cards, he’s at a total loss.
Sean has his little set of scripted objections and pat answers. For example, he has some scripted objections to empiricism. And he’s spoiling for a stereotypical empiricist to come along.
Sean’s problem is that I departed from the script. But because Sean can’t ad lib, he’s at a loss. All he can do is to stick to his script, even if it’s completely unresponsive to what his opponent actually said.
For someone who lauds the primacy of the intellect, Sean is a study in anti-intellectualism. He’s a jukebox, programmed to play the greatest hits of Gordon Clark and John Robbins.
That’s why you can’t have a rational exchange with Gerety. It’s like trying to debate a jukebox. All you can do is put in your nickels and dimes and quarters and listen to him replay the golden oldies of dead Scripturalists.
“Observing that 999 ravens are black isn’t to arrive at any ‘knowledge’ at all and provides us with no final truth (pardon the redundancy), no knowledge about ravens, or anything else.”
i) To the contrary, I arrive at knowledge about the pigmentation of 999 ravens. And that’s a truth. It’s not the only truth. But it’s true about those 999 ravens, at the time I saw them.
ii) Sean keeps tacking on this disclaimer about “anything else.” What’s that supposed to mean? How is that relevant?
No, observing 999 ravens doesn’t necessarily tell me about anything else. It doesn’t tell me about swans. So what?
How is it a problem for observation to say that observing one sort of thing doesn’t necessarily tell me anything about something else I didn’t observe?
Suppose I break my arm falling off a horse. The doctor x-rays my arm. Observing the fracture doesn’t tell him anything about the value of the Euro in relation to the yen, but what does that have to do with anything?
This is the kind of rank stupidity you get in dealing with a Scripturalist.
“Any conclusions that Hays might make about ravens from his multiple observations must remain tentative at best.”
Tentative in relation to what? The 999 black ravens I saw? What’s tentative about that? I saw 999 black ravens.
From observing 999 black ravens, I conclude that there are at least 999 black ravens. What’s tentative about that conclusion?
That it’s tentative to extrapolate from 999 ravens to every raven? Sure. But that’s a different issue. That doesn’t render the conclusion regarding the 999 ravens the least bit tentative. At best, it would only be tentative in relation to other ravens, outside the sample.
“His argument, provided we simply grant that it’s true and that he even observed 999 ravens, is that some ravens are black.”
Which would be true. It would be true that some ravens are black. That’s true for 999 ravens. That’s an object of knowledge.
Gerety can’t bring himself to admit the obvious–even when it’s staring him in the face–because his belief-system is too fragile to survive any internal adjustments.
“Some ravens might be brown, white or blue too.”
Of course, we could only find that out through observation. So Sean’s objection presupposes the value of observation to discover counterexamples. Thanks, Sean, for making my point!
“Knowledge, properly understood, is concerned with the truth, not whether something might be true, or may be true in ‘some’ cases, but that which is always true and in every case.”
I see. So unless everyone is going to heaven, no one is going to heaven. Unless everyone is going to hell, no one is going to hell.
Unless everyone can change water into wine, no one can change water into wine.
According to Sean, the miracle at Cana is unknowable. According to Sean, unique events are unknowable. Even rare or frequent events are unknowable.
According to Sean, the only knowable events are events that happen in every single case.
And, of course, as a card-carrying Scripturalist, Sean learned that from the Bible. There are no unique events in Scripture. Or merely rare or frequent events.
So Sean denies the Virgin Birth. You see, knowledge, properly understood, is concerned with the truth, not whether something might be true, or may be true in ‘some’ cases, but that which is always true and in every case. Unless everyone is virgin-born, no one is virgin-born.
BTW, Sean Gerety’s middle name is Troeltsch.
“Induction can never arrive at one universally true statement like ‘all men are sinners’.”
That’s only a problem if all truths are universal truths. What if some truths are unique, unrepeatable truths?
“There is no ‘all’ in inductive arguments, there is only ‘some’ and ‘maybe.’ This is the real limitation of Hays’ so-called ‘sense knowledge.’ It can never arrive at the knowledge of anything at all.”
i) Statements about “something” or “someone” or ‘sometime” or “somewhere” can’t be true. Sean knows this because Sean, as a good Scripturalist, derives all his knowledge from Scripture, and Scripture itself never makes sortal statements like “They saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed” (Mk 7:2), or “There are some of you who do not believe” (Jn 6:64), or “In order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them” (Rom 11:14), or “The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later” (1 Tim 5:24).
ii) Incidentally, to say that sense-knowledge is limited is hardly an argument against the possibility of sense knowledge. That’s a brazen non sequitur.
“Further, Hays simply begs the question when he claims to have observed 999 black ravens. He has never demonstrated his claim, he merely asserts it. He doesn’t show how one can start with sensation and arrive at the true proposition that even 1 raven is black. Hays hasn’t even defined what he means by sensation, nor has he shown that men have them, but I suspect it has something to do with his ‘observations’.”
i) Of course, this very paragraph, which involves a denial of sense knowledge is, itself, a sensory object. A string of visible letters, comprising visible words and sentences. So, if anything, the burden of proof lies squarely on Sean to demonstrate his empirical claim that no empirical claim is demonstrable. Sean keeps banging his own head against his own window–feathers flying every which ways.
ii) Gerety hasn’t shown what it means to “show how one can start with sensation and arrive at the true proposition that even1 raven is black.”
He hasn’t even defined what it means to show it, much less shown it.
iii) For that matter, why do we have to define something to know something? Does a baby not know what a breast is unless he can define a breast?
Lion cubs and bear cubs seem to know a breast when they see it. Yet I doubt the average bear cub could define the term.
iv) Moreover, why is Sean raising philosophical objections to sense-knowledge? Why does he retreat to “vain philosophy”?
The so-called problem of induction is a philosophical problem. But Sean is a Scripturalist.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that I can’t formally justify sense-knowledge? So what? That’s not a Scriptural objection, now is it?
And unless it’s a Scriptural objection, it’s not a knowledgeable objection. At best it’s an opinionated objection, which is indistinguishable from an ignorant objection.
v) Speaking of Scripture, doesn’t the Bible use color terms? You know, statements like, “And I looked, and behold, a white horse!…And out came another horse, bright red…And I looked, and behold, a black horse!…I looked, and behold, a pale horse!” (Rev 6:2-8).
John is using Greek color terms. These terms have their origin in secular Greek usage. Greek speakers coined certain words to distinguish one color from another. And that, in turn, is based on their observation of the world.
Or consider Jesus giving street directions: “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters” (Lk 22:10); “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying” (Acts 9:11).
It takes sensory perception to follow these directions. To match a verbal description with a sensory counterpart.
Scripturalism is a giant fraud. Scripturalism is a philosophical position, not a Scriptural position. Scripturalism begins with schoolboy objections to empiricism. It didn’t get any of that from Scripture. Rather, it got that from Sophism and Platonism and Neoplatonism and Hume.
It then proceeds to graft an essentially philosophical and secular theory of knowledge onto Scripture. But no one who took his cue from Scripture alone would advance such a skeptical view of sense-knowledge or induction.
“Notice what Hays does here in this long convoluted example. He has substituted his own pragmatic assumptions concerning the reliability of his keyboard with knowledge. He doesn’t know that when he hits the symbol ‘A’ on his computer keyboard that an ‘A’ will appear on his desktop, he just assumes it will simply because he assumes his keyboard is ‘functioning properly.’
Sean typed these sentences on a computer keyboard. What did he expect to happen when he depressed certain keys in a certain order?
If an artifact is designed to perform a particular function, and we’ve tested it, then we can expect it to function in the way it was designed. Sean himself operates with that expectation. Do you think Sean bought a computer with no expectation that it would perform according to specifications?
And that expectation isn’t based on induction alone. Rather, it’s based on design.
It’s the same way with the natural world. God has designed the natural world to function in certain ways.
And we are to plan our lives accordingly. Seedtime and harvest (Gen 8:22).
“How this ‘proper functionality’ is supposed to equate to knowledge Hays doesn’t say. Not only does he admit that it is possible that a ‘random number of cases a keystroke won’t yield the corresponding letter,’ it only has to occur once to disprove his truth claim.”
To begin with, God doesn’t require us to know the future when he requires us to plan for the future. Only God has a detailed knowledge of the future. Yet the fool in Proverbs is reproved for his failure to think ahead. Failure to make provision for tomorrow.
So God often requires us to act on probabilities rather than certainties. And proper functionality is quite relevant to probabilities.
You can have a reasonable expectation, even if your expectation falls short of knowledge. Even if your expectations are sometimes mistaken.
ii) Moreover, a solitary exception doesn’t disprove my claim, since there is no expectation that a keyboard will never malfunction. The expectation, rather, is that my keyboard will function properly often enough to get the job done.
That is how Sean himself proceeds. Does Sean think his keyboard is either totally reliable or totally unreliable? No.
iii) Moreover, malfunctions don’t destroy the possibility of knowledge. They only destroy the possibility of knowledge in case of malfunction, not in all the other cases of proper function.
For example, people sometimes miscommunicate. Fail to understand each other. The message is garbled in transmission.
Does this mean that people never successfully communicate with each other? No.
Indeed, if successful communication were rendered impossible due to instances of miscommunication, it would be impossible to even detect instances of miscommunication.
“Could anything be more bankrupt or more paltry than Hays’ ‘knowledge’ claims? He confuses his own ‘well-placed confidence’ in the reliability of his keyboard with knowledge.”
i) Well-placed confidence can have a basis in knowledge. If I know an artifact was designed to perform a particular function, knowledge of its design undergirds my confidence. Likewise, if I have experience using the product, then I know that it’s worked well in the past.
ii) Even if experience alone didn’t warrant an extrapolation from the past to the future, experience is still a source of knowledge–knowledge of the past. Even if the future turned out to be completely dissimilar to the past, knowledge of the past doesn’t cease to be knowledge just because it isn’t a guide to the future.
Consider Sean’s own behavior Sean talks like Clark, but acts like Butler. His lips say one thing, but his fingers tell another story.
“Hays talks about memories being “sufficiently reliable,” but sufficiently reliable according to whom? ”
i) Well, far starters, what about Sean Gerety? Does Gerety not rely on his own memory? Everyday and every waking hour of the day?
Does Sean think that his own memories are either totally reliable or totally unreliable?
Does Sean think that someone with a photographical memory is no better off than someone with senile dementia?
Does Sean remember his wife? Does Sean remember his neighbor’s wife? Does Sean remember the difference?
Does Sean remember where to find his house? Does Sean remember how to type? Does Sean remember which key corresponds to which operation?
Does Sean remember the Bible? Does Sean remember where to find the Book of Isaiah or the Gospel of John? Does Sean remember Jn 3:16?
We don’t have to have perfectly reliable senses or perfectly reliable memories. Rather, we have to rely on what God has given us. God, in his providence, makes use of our senses and memories–including our misperceptions and faulty recollections.
Has Sean ever forgotten anything? Has Sean every misremembered anything? Does Sean thereafter avoid any reliance on his senses or memories in case they ever let him down?
ii) As a Scripturalist, we can rest assure Sean developed his skepticism about our memories from reading Scripture. Unless our memories are infallible, the Bible would never admonish us to “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place” (Exod 13:3), or “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exod 20:8), or “Set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel” (Exod 28:2), or “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.” (Rev 3:3), or tell us, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19).
Commands like that would betray a “paltry” and “bankrupt” pragmatism.
i) As I’ve said before, Scripturalism doesn’t derive from Scripture. Rather, it’s a philosophical position. And it’s based on a very one-sided reading of philosophy at that. Conventional objections to empiricism. No discussion of how empiricists respond to conventional objections. No discussion of the objections which empiricists level against rationalists.
ii) Sean hates the world God gave us. Sean is at war with God’s handiwork. He doesn’t trust God. He distrusts our God-given faculties–even though he himself can’t avoid his utter and inescapable dependence on the very faculties he derides.
“Also, it would seem sense perception is synonymous to memory.”
Which I never said or implied. Sean is so illiterate.
“Memory is notoriously UN-reliable along with eyewitness testimony (which, I would think, is another case of ‘sense perception’). Perhaps Hays should spend some time on jury duty. But, even if he never enters a courtroom, he should at least spend some time considering the epistemic implications of the musical, Gigi.”
And perhaps Gerety should spend some time considering the epistemic implications of testimonial evidence in Scripture.
“Even Hays admits that senses ‘deceive us’ and that ‘memories sometimes fail,’ yet he claims that through the deceptions and failures he can deduce ‘natural patterns’ and ‘recognize design.’ Hays says that we are to plan for the future based on these deceptive sensations and failed memories.”
With Gerety, it’s always hard to tell if he’s quite as stupid as he sounds. Should we give him the benefit of the doubt?
i) There’s a difference between the claim that a faculty, which is sometimes unreliable, is a source of knowledge–and the claim a faculty is a source of knowledge when it’s unreliable. Is Gerety too dense to distinguish between these to very different propositions?
ii) Some animals have better daytime vision than nighttime vision, while other animals have better nighttime vision than daytime vision.
Poor nighttime vision doesn’t cast doubt on good daytime vision. Poor daytime vision doesn’t cast down on good nighttime vision.
Memory and sensory perception are modes of knowledge when they are functioning properly. They are not modes of knowledge when they malfunction.
Likewise, a car doesn’t drive very well when it has a flat tire. This doesn’t mean it makes no difference if you change the tire.
ii) Gerety cannot avoid the vicissitudes of fallible memory. Does Gerety have an infallible memory? No.
Yet everything he thinks he knows depends on memory. Short-term memory. Long-term memory.
iii) Unlike Gerety, I acknowledge the limitations of human finitude. But that’s nothing to fret over as long as we are finite creatures of an infinite Creator. God sees to it that his people know what they need to know when they need to know it. And God can keep us in his will even when we don’t know his will. Due to his all-embracing providence, we can do his will without knowing it–in advance of the fact. Indeed, at a decretive level, we cannot avoid doing his will. And those who consciously avoid God’s will unconsciously fulfill his will.
“Yet, in contrast to Hays irrational trust in his failed memories and faulty ‘sense perceptions’ as he ‘plans for the future,’ James tells us that all such planning is sinful.”
James doesn’t say we should distrust our senses or memories. And James doesn’t say we shouldn’t make plans. Rather, James says we shouldn’t act presumptuously. We could make allowance for the fact that our plans may not dovetail with God’s plans.
We have the same balance in Proverbs. On the one hand, the wise make preparations for the future. Have contingency plans. On the other hand, the wise also realize that human beings are shortsighted. The disposition of the world ultimately lies in God’s beneficent, but sometimes inscrutable, hands.
In context, James is addressing wealthy Christians. Rich people have more power than poor people. More resources. More options.
As a result, they have rather more control over their circumstances than poor people. If they don’t like their situation, they can often change it. They’re not at the mercy of circumstances to quite the same degree.
This, in turn, can lead to overconfidence. That’s what James is warning against. (See the commentaries by Blomberg and Moo for detailed exegesis).
That isn’t contrary to my stated position. That doesn’t support Gerety’s position. Quite the opposite: that corroborates my own position. According to James, planning for the future can’t be based on certainty, and, as such, ought not be based, on certainty. For certainly lies in God’s good hands, and not our own.
“Notice too the many weasel words Hays uses in order to get his ‘divine design’ theory past the uncritical reader. The past we are told is a ‘generally’ reliable guide. The world functions in a ‘fairly’ predictable way. Correlations of cause and effect ‘generally’ obtain.”
Sean typed this paragraph on a computer. Doesn’t he believe his computer was designed to function in a generally reliable and–therefore–fairly predictable way? Doesn’t he think that depressing a particular key in a particular order generally yields a predictable effect?
Would he invest is a generally unreliable computer? Would he buy a keyboard with unpredictable keystrokes? Doesn’t he count on computer technology to be a blogger?
“Cause and effect are ideas not derived from observation.”
i) I never said they were. To the contrary, I grounded cause and effect in the Biblical doctrine of created kinds.
ii) But where does Scripture say that ideas of cause and effect are not derived from observation? Sean didn’t get that from the Bible. He got that from Hume. Hume is his Bible.
His objections to induction are drawn, not from Scripture, but from philosophy. And just one particular strand of philosophy at that.
“The exceptions to the rule, miracles, completely vitiate Hays’ belief in so-called ‘sense knowledge’.”
Is that what Scripture says? Many Biblical miracles are public events. Deliberately so. Take the plagues of Egypt. These were meant to be a visible, tangible manifestation of God’s power and judgment.
Miracles are sensory events. Far from vitiating sense-knowledge, they presuppose it.
“Frankly, Hays’ belief in the past, cause and effect, not to mention observation would lead one to conclude that when ax heads are dropped they always fall to the ground...”
Notice that Sean isn’t responding to anything I actually said. Indeed, his objection runs counter to my qualified statements.
As always, Sean is helpless to rebut an opponent whose objections and arguments don’t conform to pat answers that Robbins drilled into his dutiful mascot. In the pecking order of Scripturalism, Sean is a poor man’s Robbins, while Robbins is a poor man’s Clark.
“Can there be anything more paltry and pathetic than Hays’ ‘divine design’ epistemology? Christians cannot draw ‘a universal inference from enumerative induction,’ they only draw tentative or ‘general’ inferences. Of course, the reason that the Christian, just like the atheist, cannot draw any universal inferences from their ‘enumerative inductions’ is because the form of the conclusion is not the same as the form of the premises. Or, to put it another way, the reason Christians do not draw universal inferences from ‘enumerative inductions’ is because all such conclusion are fallacious; they are false. Induction is just as fallacious for the Christian as it is for the atheist. Nothing in Hays’ ‘divine design’ theory makes any conclusions he might draw from his observations any less fallacious.”
i) The reason Gerety can’t tell the difference between a Christian outlook and a godless outlook is that Gerety’s own outlook is indistinguishable from a godless outlook. Gerety’s mentor is Hume, not Scripture.
For Hume, enumerative inductions are all we have to go by. That’s because Hume lacks a doctrine of divine creation or providence.
But Christians have a reason, above and beyond the past itself, to suppose the future will generally resemble the past. Take Gen 1, with its doctrine of natural kinds. Organisms reproduce after their kind.
Now, this doesn’t preclude a miraculous conception. And, in a fallen world, it doesn’t preclude birth defects. Freak mutations.
Things can malfunction. Or God can bypass the ordinary process.
But, as a rule, things reproduce according to their kind. And that’s something we depend on. For selective breeding and agriculture. It’s also something we depend on when we marry. Not in the sense that men can’t be impotent or women can’t be barren. But fertility is the default assumption. Moreover, we assume that men beget men, not kitten.
Likewise, crops can fail–due to drought or infestation. Do we therefore refrain from sowing seed? Would Gerety have us go on a hunger strike unless God guarantees a bumper crop?
Sean suffers from the same mentality as a psychic. He can’t leave the outcome to God. No, he has to divine the outcome for himself. Play his Clarkian Tarot cards.
“As we have seen, Hays is not interested in knowledge.”
This is from a man who says you can never trust your own memories. Well, as far as knowledge goes, once you eliminate memory, what is left?
Say the present moment is 7:55:48. Everything before that, beginning at 7:55:47, lies in the past. The remembered past. But according to Gerety, memory is not a source of knowledge. So what does Gerety know? At 7:55:48, he knows nothing that happened a second before. Nothing a minute ago, or ten minutes ago.
“Epistemology for him is simply a game of chance.”
i) As long as God is the croupier, I’m game to play epistemological roulette. I roll the dice God’s given me. After all, casting lots is a biblical practice. Does a Scripturalist disapprove of Scripture?
ii) Anyway, Gerety is just posturing. Imagine a world that operated according to Scripturalist principles.
Suppose that Gerety parks his car in a numbered slot on a numbered floor of a public garage, then returns an hour later. Keep in mind that, in Gerety’s world, there’s no presumption that the future bears any resemblance to the past. His car may vanish into thin air the moment his back is turned.
So, in Gerety’s world, returning to the parking garage is fraught with adventure.
Does he remember where he parked his car? Yet memory is hopelessly unreliable. But even if he does remember, there’s no expectation that his car will still be in the same slot, or even on the same floor. The floors may have changed places while he was away. Numbers on parking slots may have erased themselves and renumbered themselves.
Does he remember what his car looks like? Does he remember the color? Oh, but that would rely on sensation. Unless he can first define sensation, he doesn’t have a clue whether his car is black or white or pink or purple or green or yellow or orange.
Suppose, by luck, he stumbles across his car. But he needs to double-check the serial number. The serial number may have added a digit or dropped a digit or reversed a digit from one hour to the next. After all, there’s absolutely no presumption that the future ever resembles the past.
Suppose he checks the serial number. It’s the same. Or it? For one thing, he can’t trust his memory. Yes, he just checked in 30 seconds ago, but maybe he’s already forgotten it. Or maybe he correctly remembers what he saw 30 seconds ago, but misremembers what it was an hour ago, when he parked the car. He can’t compare one memory with another.
Or even if he remembers what it was, it may change by the time he leaves the parking garage. After all, there’s no presumptive continuity between past and present.
For all he knows, his car may mutate into an enchilada while he’s on the freeway. A speeding enchilada, fueled by hot tamales and unleaded Tabasco sauce.
Or what about the empty tomb? Sure, the body wasn’t there was when Peter and John and Mary Magdalene were poking around. But maybe, in Gerety’s discontinuous universe, the dead body appears and disappears and reappears. When someone’s looking, it isn’t there. When someone’s not looking, it’s there.
Maybe that’s what “really” happens when we misplace our keys. Our keys are such mischievous entities. They were there in the drawer all along, but as soon as we open the drawer, they become invisible. After all, you can’t even know of something’s visible unless you first define “invisible.”
And you can’t define something unless you can define “define.” And you can’t define “define” before you give an account of defining “define.”
What is more, you can’t account for your definition of “define” until you define “account.”
And then you have to account for your definition of “account.”
And before you do that, you have to deduce “define” from Scripture. But you can’t deduce “define” from Scripture until you can define “deduce.” Assuming you can account for your definition of “deduce.”
“He’s not interested in a method for discovering what is true,”
Ah, yes, Gerety’s methodology. Of course, Gerety has to define “methodology.” And account for his definition. And deduce his definition. And define deduction. And account for deduction. And account for the English word. And deduce the English word.
So I guess his methodology goes something like this:
Define “define” before you define “deduce” before you define “account” before you account for “define” before you account for “deduce” before you account for “account” before you deduce “define” before you deduce “deduce” before you deduce “account.”
Or is more like: Deduce “define” before you deduce “deduce” before you deduce “account” before you account for “deduce” before you account for “account” before you define “define” before you define “deduce” before you define “account”?
Or maybe it’s really like: Account for “define” before you account for “deduce” before you account for “account” before you deduce “define” before you deduce “deduce” before you deduce “account” before you define “define” before you define “deduce” before you define “account”?
Unless, of course, it’s truly like: Deduce “deduce” before you deduce “account” before you account for “account” before you deduce “define” before you define “define” before you define “deduce” before you define “account.”
Good thing Sean’s methodology isn’t “convoluted” like my “paltry” alternative.
At the end of the day, Gerety is a cultist–like Valentinus, Swedenborg, and Mary Baker Eddy. He has a secular epistemology which he derives, not from Scripture, but from his favorite philosophers. He superimposes that secular, extrascriptural grid onto Scripture. It functions as a filter to screen out Scriptural propositions which conflict with his secular, extrascriptural epistemology.