Tuesday, March 04, 2014

God loves a hilarious giver

I'm going to comment on this:

Scripturalism, then, teaches that all of our knowledge is to be derived from the Bible, which has a systematic monopoly on truth. This approach to a Christian worldview is taught by the Apostle Paul and is confirmed by the teachings of the Westminster Standards. According to the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura, neither science, nor history, nor philosophy is needed to give truth. According to the Scripturalist, there is no “two-source” theory of truth taught in the Word of God. 

That's demonstrably false inasmuch as the Confession itself designates "the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence" (WCF 1.1) as sources of knowledge in addition to Scripture.  

The Bible teaches, as stated by John Calvin, that the Spirit of God has implanted an innate idea of Himself, a sensus divinitatis, in all men, which is propositional and ineradicable. This is due to the fact that all men are created in the image of God. 
How does Crampton prove that this is "propositional" rather than tacit?
When man interacts with God’s creation, which demonstrates His glory, power, and wisdom, man, as God’s image, is forced, in some sense, to “think God.” The visible creation itself does not mediate “knowledge” to man (as in the epistemology of Thomas Aquinas), for the visible universe sets forth no propositions. Rather, it stimulates the mind of man to intellectual intuition (or recollection), who as a rational being is already in possession of apriori, propositional information about God and His creation This apriori information is immediately impressed upon man’s consciousness, and it is more than adequate to show that the God of the Bible is the one and only true God. 
Crampton's theory of repressed memories comes from Plato rather than Scripture.  Keep in mind that Plato espoused reincarnation. Given his theory of preexistence, we retain repressed memories (anamnesis) from former lives:
The soul, then, as being immortal, and having been born again many times, and having seen all things that exist, whether in this world or in the world below, has knowledge of them all; and it is no wonder that she should be able to call to remembrance all that she ever knew about virtue, and about everything; for as all nature is akin, and the soul has learned all things; there is no difficulty in her eliciting or as men say learning, out of a single recollection -all the rest, if a man is strenuous and does not faint; for all enquiry and all learning is but recollection.

Perhaps Crampton has now explained how Michael Sudduth went from Scripturalism to Hinduism! They share the same underlying epistemology. 

Back to Crampton:

Rather, as noted above, the senses apparently stimulate the mind of man to intellectual intuition, to recollect the God-given innate ideas that man already possesses. Gordon Clark used the illustration of a piece of paper on which is written a message in invisible ink. The paper (by illustration, the mind) might appear blank, but in actuality it is not. When the heat of experience is applied to the mind (as when heat is applied to the paper), the message becomes visible. Human knowledge, then, is possible only because God has endowed man with certain innate ideas.
Another problem with Crampton's theory is the failure to distinguish between versions of nativism. As one philosopher notes, there are three different versions:
The Intuition/Deduction Thesis

The Innate Knowledge Thesis

The Innate Concept Thesis

Crampton needs to specify which model he's endorsing. And he needs to defend his preferred model against objections.

Since all knowledge must come through propositions (which are either true or false), since the senses in interacting with creation yield no propositions, knowledge cannot be conveyed by sensation. 
That's an assertion in search of an argument. Let's take a counterexample. I see a sapphire. I think to myself, "That looks blue to me." That's a proposition. 
Not just a proposition, but propositional knowledge. An indexical, self-presenting state. Notice that this doesn't depend on whether or not the sapphire is actually blue. What makes it a true belief or true proposition is that it appears to be blue to me. If it looks blue to me, then it's true that it looks blue to me.  
Some of these propositional truths are implanted in man from conception by God. And when man interacts with creation or reads the words of Scripture, the divine teacher, the Logos, illuminates the mind so that the propositions come to consciousness, as the invisible ink. This is possible because the mind of man is enveloped by the mind of the Logos, who enlightens him to understand the eternal propositions in the mind of God. It does not come about by man’s effort or initiative, but by God’s, who reveals truth.God created humans with rational minds that use the same laws of thought as His own; men are image-bearers of God. The principles of reason (logic) and knowledge are innately given by God to mankind through the Logos.The Christian view of epistemology has its roots in the Logos doctrine.(15) According to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ is the cosmological Logos (1:1-3), the epistemological Logos (1:9, 14), and the soteriological Logos (1:4, 12-13; 14:6). He is the Creator of the world, the source of all human knowledge, and the giver of salvation. As to the epistemological Logos, which is the focus of the present study, Christ is the “true light which enlightens every man coming into the world” (1:9). Apart from the Logos, the “inward teacher,” knowledge would not be possible.
Several problems with Crampton's Mickey Mouse prooftexting:
i) The ambiguous syntax of Jn 1:9: does it refer to Christ coming into the world or everyone coming into the world? Crampton doesn't even acknowledge the syntactical issue, much less demonstrate that his construction is the best interpretation of the passage. 
ii) Even if (ex hypothesi) it refers to everyone coming into the world, Crampton fails to show from the text how that selects for internal revelation rather than external revelation. 
iii) Furthermore, to say that Christ enlightens every man falls far short of showing that "the senses apparently stimulate the mind of man to intellectual intuition, to recollect the God-given innate ideas that man already possesses." Jn 1:9 doesn't make that specific claim. Not even close. 
So much does the Bible speak of God as the God of logic, that in John 1:1 Jesus Christ is called the “Logic” of God:  “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God”  (the English word “logic” is derived from the Greek word Logos used in this verse).  John 1:1 emphasized the rationality of God the Son.  Logic is as eternal as God himself because “the Logos is God.”  Hence, God and logic cannot be separated; logic is the characteristic of God’s thinking.  In the words of Clark, “God and logic are one and the same first principle, for John wrote that Logic was God.”

i) That's on the same level as saying God loves a "hilarious" giver or the Gospel is the "dynamite" unto salvation. 
ii) As many commentators have documented, John is using "logos" as a Septuagintal carryover for God's creative speech. It doesn't mean "logic." That's further borne out by the conspicuous allusion to Gen 1. The background lies in OT usage rather than Greek philosophy. 
Another way of explaining this is that the sum total of all truth exists in the mind of God: “For in Him [God] we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Nothing exists outside of the mind of God. 
i) To say nothing exists outside the mind of God commits Crampton pantheistic idealism. It denies denies a physical world, objective to God. 
ii) It also renders time illusory, if God's mind is timeless. In that case, nothing really happens. No creation. No exodus. No Incarnation. No crucifixion. No Resurrection. No return of Christ. These are just divine ideas. Timeless ideas.
iii) Acts 17:28 doesn't say we live and move and have our being in the mind of God. What would it even mean to say we "live" or "move" in God's mind? Are ideas alive? Do ideas move from one place in God's mind to another place in God's mind? Does Crampton think God's mind has spatial dimensions? 
That is the meaning of the words “omniscient” and “omnipresent.” 
It is? I take omnipresence to be a picturesque metaphor for God's omniscience and omnipotence. 
If man is going to know the truth, he must come to know the eternal propositions in the mind of God. As stated by Jonathan Edwards, “since all truth is in the mind,” and since “God is truth itself,” if we are going to know the truth there must be “the consistency and agreement of our ideas with the ideas of God.”(16)  Thus, whenever human beings know truth, they know that which exists in the mind of God; they do not merely have a representation of the truth.Scripturalism denies the correspondence theory of truth, i.e., that the mind of man has only a representation of the truth, and not the truth itself. Rather, a Christian epistemology holds to the coherence theory of truth, which maintains that what man has is the real truth: the same truth that exists in man’s mind exists first in the mind of God. As stated by Gordon Clark: “Realism is the view that the mind of man actually possesses the truth. Representationalism holds that the mind has only an image, a picture, a representation, an analogy of the truth, but does not have the truth itself.”
To revert to my example, when I think to myself, "that sapphire looks blue to me [a man]," then, according to Scripturalism, that can only be true if God thinks to himself, "that sapphire looks blue to me [God]." 
Does Crampton think physical objects appear to be colored to God? Does an emerald appear to be green to God? Doesn't that theory of knowledge attribute sensory perception to God? 
For speech to be intellible [sic], words must have univocal meanings.  What makes the words meaningful and revelation and communication possible is that each word conforms to the law of contradiction.

So double entendres are meaningless? 


  1. I've collected some links to critiques of Scripturalism (many of which are from Triablogue) Here:

    Critiques of Clarkianism and Scripturalism

  2. Clarkians are a funny lot. Red Beetle and Drake Shelton come to mind...

  3. I think that in the context of knowledge as non-accidental true belief, the problem of justifying the possibility of partial knowledge makes Scripturalism more plausible. I've written a few posts on this, and as you've written some good critiques of Clark et al., I was wondering if you wouldn't mind commenting on one. For example:


    1. i) Of course, you yourself are far more sophisticated than Sean Gerety or Gary Crampton.

      ii) It isn't clear to me how your argument selects for Scripturalism. Indeed, one difference between Scripturalism and Van Tilianism is that Scripturalism is committed to a specific theory of knowledge. A variation on rationalism. By contrast, van Tilianism isn't really a theory of how we know or what we know, but how knowledge is even possible. In principle, a Van Tilian could espouse a more rationalist (e.g. Augustinian) theory of knowledge or a more empiricist (e.g. Lockean) theory of knowledge. It's concerned with how we ground knowledge. To that extent, your argument could be deployed to defend Van Tilianism.

      iii) In general, I think you have a promising argument. I have one potential caveat. You say "If possession of omniscience is not a precondition for knowledge, then it is clear that truths are not related in such a way that a single knowledge-claim entails a[n implicit] claim to knowledge of all others."

      That's ambiguous. Do you mean all knowledge-claims which happen to be implicit in a single-knowledge claim, or do you mean each knowledge-claim entails every other knowledge-claim? If the latter, then I disagree. Although all truths of reason are logically interrelated, truths of fact of often merely contingently interrelated. As such, while some truths of fact are causally interrelated to other truths of fact, truths of fact can and often do belong to independent causal chains. Hence, the category of coincidence. Likewise, there are logically possible alternate timelines. Every link in the chain isn't logically necessary. This is not to deny that some truths of fact are logically embedded in other truths of fact (e.g. every red object is a colored object), but not all truths of fact are mutually implicit. Hence, we can't infer every truth of fact from each truth of fact, or vice versa.

    2. Thanks for the reply.

      Re ii): By itself, this argument doesn't even select for Christianity. And even if we were to argue other necessary truths in conjunction with this one, nothing would suffice to select for Scripturalism because what propositional knowledge we claim to know has been communicated from God - those signified by Scripture - is axiomatic, not derived. So my argument is confirmatory rather than selective by design. There's only so much that can be said in a comment, but I think what I wrote to a friend some time ago about the purpose of apologetic arguments like these is relevant:

      //…there really is a difference between why we accept Christianity and how we try to convince others to accept Christianity. Telling someone else that a truth is self-evident/authenticating/justifying is fine, but when they parrot that back - which is to say, from our perspective, that they borrow from our worldview - it seems more useful to us to explain what it is that our worldview can account for that theirs cannot. It turns out apologetics is somewhat pragmatic, since we pick and choose from among various alternatives as to how to respond to a single question. This isn't to say our replies are untrue, but usually this difference between being justified in believing Christianity for our own sake (foundationalism) vs. defending Christianity against or for others (warrant emergent coherentism + prayer for divine grace that the individuals in question would understand how they can be justified for believing in Christianity for their own sakes) isn't explicated. This can cause some confusion as to what actually justifies or grounds what/what is foundationally, axiomatically true.//

      Also, I'm not familiar with Van Til's meta-epistemology, but from conversations with alleged Van Tilians, most seem to want to preserve empirical knowledge, meaning they almost always have a less strict concept of knowledge in mind when they argue for its possibility. Maybe the same goes for those more inclined toward a rationalist epistemology. If that is the sort of knowldge Van Til looks to make possible, my argument isn't concerned with probabilistic knowledge.

      Re: iii), I am saying that "each knowledge-claim entails every other knowledge-claim" only if we say one must himself be omniscient in order to know anything. If, on the other hand, we don't need to be omniscient to know something - if partial knowledge is possible - then truths are not related in such a way that any knowledge claim we make would necessarily entail a commitment to a knowledge of everything else. In short, for a targeted belief to be justified, one doesn't need to know the whole context of that belief (i.e. everything else)... if partial knowledge is possible. But people seem to intuit this truth without answering the question of how they know partial knowledge is possible or that we don't need to be omniscient. When we stop to think about that question and see who is in a position to answer it given what else he believes, we see an argument for the need of communication from an omniscient person (or persons) emerge.

    3. It's true that Van Tilians wish to preserve sense knowledge, but I don't see how that entails probabilistic knowledge. Sure, there are the stock objections to the reliability of sense knowledge, going all the way back to ancient Greek skepticism (with parallel debates in Indian philosophy), but that leaves out of consideration whether God typically leaves sensory knowledge or induction to the vicissitudes of chance. Given a doctrine of meticulous providence, the metaphysical machinery exists to ground the reliability of sense knowledge. That doesn't mean sensory perception or induction is inerrant. Just that, in the subset of cases where God intends the observer to correctly perceive events, or draw correct inferences, God prearranges his epistemic situation accordingly. For instance, that the sample will be representative. The mere possibility of misperception or misremembering doesn't predict for how frequently or infrequently that will be realized.

    4. We need to distinguish between what Van Tilians happen to believe and core Van Tilian commitments, or what the "system" entails, viz. TAG, God as the personal absolute. In theory, you could plug that into a more Augustinian epistemology.

    5. I'm guessing this is an externalism vs. internalism issue? I agree that the beliefs we form empirically are reliable for the reasons you mention if by that you mean said beliefs are generally true. If these beliefs are not inerrant, however - if we cannot appropriately recognize the propositions in question to be necessary truths - it seems to me that the nature of what "knowledge" sensation and induction yield must be probabilistic.

    6. Rereading what I wrote, perhaps "necessarily true" is better than "necessary truths" since I don't mean to rule out the possibility of knowing contingent truths inerrantly or non-accidentally. I have in mind the fact that if God reveals anything, that revelation is necessarily true whether it refers to things which have to be the case or only things which are the case because God decreed them so.

    7. Ryan

      "I'm guessing this is an externalism vs. internalism issue? I agree that the beliefs we form empirically are reliable for the reasons you mention if by that you mean said beliefs are generally true. If these beliefs are not inerrant, however - if we cannot appropriately recognize the propositions in question to be necessarily true - it seems to me that the nature of what 'knowledge' sensation and induction yield must be probabilistic."

      i) Seems to me there must be a missing premise in your argument. Are you suggesting that unless our sources of knowledge are infallible, they don't count as knowledge? But that would lead to global skepticism even on (or especially on) Scripturalist assumptions. In Scripturalism, as I understand it, Scripture is the only direct source of true knowledge. However, that's contingent on our understanding of Scripture. Our fallible interpretations or fallible inferences. Likewise, Scripturalists must rely on their fallible memory of the explicit or implicit teaching of Scripture. So how does that differ from the fallibility of sensory perception?

      Scripturalism depends, not simply on Scripture, but on a process of interpretation and inference. Unless not only Scripture, but the process of understanding Scripture and drawing inferences is likewise infallible, doesn't your position devour itself?

      ii) Likewise, you seem to be saying that unless sensory perception or inductive logic is always reliable, it never counts as knowledge. Isn't that like saying, unless communication is always infallible, communication is never a source of knowledge? But by that yardstick, the inspired propositions of Scripture don't count as knowledge, for that stands in contrast to the generally fallible character of communication. Conversely, if some statements (i.e. scriptural propositions) count as knowledge in spite of the fact that not all statements (i.e. many extrascriptural statements) don't count as knowledge, then why can't sensory perception yield knowledge in some cases despite the fact that misperception occurs in other cases?

      iii) Suppose a cat-like object appears in my field of vision. It appears to be a cat. Suppose, as a matter of fact, it is a cat. What I took to be a cat was indeed a cat. How does my belief that I saw a cat fall short of knowledge? My sensory perception and attendant belief correctly identified the object. And that's not an accidental belief. That's what my visual system was divinely designed for. When a cat appears in my field of vision, and I register a cat, my sensory perception is operating the way it's supposed to operate.

      iv) You seem to be placing an extra condition on knowledge: to count as knowledge, I must know that I could not be mistaken. Unless I have some way to rule out the possibility of error, my true belief falls short of knowledge.

      But that's self-defeating for the Scripturalist. He must be able to rule out the possibility of misinterpreting Scripture, or drawing a fallacious inference, or misremembering a valid inference.

    8. How does my belief that I saw a cat fall short of knowledge?

      “If your reasons for believing P are such that you might have them when P is false, then they aren’t good enough to know that P is true.” (Fred Dretske, Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, pg. 43)

      On your supposition, the “you” before whom a cat-like object appeared would acknowledge that “I saw a cat” could be false.

      Under other circumstances or in other contexts, the situation you describe could count as knowledge. But that would not be the sort of knowledge I believe requires our derivation from an omniscient source.

      So you are correct that I think knowledge requires that one “must be able to rule out the possibility of misinterpreting Scripture, or drawing a fallacious inference, or misremembering a valid inference” – i.e., I accept that the “process of interpretation and inference” must be infallible. But I don’t see why that is self-defeating or leads to global skepticism. Just the opposite. The only way I could see why you might think that is if you also think we are always epistemically fallible and all our beliefs must be open to revision because misinterpretation, misremembering, and fallacious inference are always live possibilities. But it’s this “pure fallibilism” that I would find self-defeating (link).

      Yes, we can misinterpret, misremember, or draw fallacious inferences from Scripture, but I believe this no indictment of the character of Scripture or our ability to know it. How this differs from beliefs whose source is sensory perception is that in the latter case alone there is no formed belief which must be true.

    9. How can a Scripturalist rule out the possibility that he misinterpreted Scripture, drew a fallacious inference, or misremembers what Scripture teaches?

    10. By noting whether the contradictory of any of his beliefs would lead to absurdity.

    11. i) Ryan, your appeal is viciously circular. If you admit that it's possible for a Scripturalist to make logical mistakes, then it's no solution to say that's avoidable "by noting whether the contradictory of any of his beliefs would lead to absurdity," for the very process of noting whether the contradictory of any of his beliefs would lead to absurdity presumes that he's not making logical mistakes at the time he engages in that process.

      Presumably, a Scripturalist doesn't intend to draw fallacious inferences from Scripture. If his deductions are invalid, that's unwitting. But he can't very well correct a fallacy he's not even aware of in the first place.

      ii) Also, you're making ultimate coherence the litmus test. But tracing out all the logical conclusions of every belief is very ambitious. It's easy to take positions which are subtly incoherent. How many Scripturalists are able to *consistently* satisfy your stringent condition? Frankly, noting whether the contradictory of any of his beliefs would lead to absurdity requires omniscience.

      iii) You've have indicted that unless sensory perception is uniformly reliable, it can't be a source of knowledge. By parity of argument, unless reason is uniformly reliable, it can't be a source of knowledge. If Scripturalists sometimes commit logical fallacies, then drawing inferences from Scripture can't be a source of knowledge. Same thing with interpreting the Bible, or remembering what Scripture teaches.

      So your position leads to global skepticism. You've already excluded memory, induction, and sensory perception as source of knowledge. Your only candidate for knowledge is the explicit or implicit teaching of Scripture. But if that is subject to objections which parallel your objections to sense knowledge and induction, then by process of elimination, we never know anything at all!

  4. Ron DiGiacomo has written numerous posts on the justification of knowledge at his blog ReformedApologist.blogspot.com. He seems to combine elements of both Van Tillian presuppositionalism and Clarkian presuppositionalism and Scripturalism.

  5. Not wanting to interrupt Ryan's and Steve's more sophisticated discussion, I'll post my comment here.

    It seems to me, that so long as one is finite and non-omniscient every 1. sensation, 2. belief, 3. thought, 4. proposition, 5. axiom, and 6. premise in every argument can be doubted/questioned. I agree with Van Til that everyone has to solve the epistemic problem of either knowing everything or knowing nothing. In order to know A, you have to know it in relation to B, and C, and D etc. But in order to know B, you have to know it in relation to A, and C, and D etc. Therefore, either you must know EVERYTHING in order to know **ANYTHING**, or you can no nothing at all.

    Steve seems to address this when he says, "If the latter, then I disagree. Although all truths of reason are logically interrelated, truths of fact of often merely contingently interrelated. As such, while some truths of fact are causally interrelated to other truths of fact, truths of fact can and often do belong to independent causal chains. Hence, the category of coincidence." Steve, seems right as far as it goes. But Van Til would include in the true and exhaustive knowledge of any fact, it's relationship to the providential plan of God. No amount of induction or deduction (etc.) can figure out what that plan is apart from God's self-revelation.

    So it seems to me that it comes down to trust and faith. Either you trust the true God, or you trust and place your faith in something else. For the naturalistic atheist, she will trust that evolution has developed her mental faculties and sensory organs in such a way that they are properly adapted to her environment (i.e. evolutionary reliabilism). But that's just another form of faith. A leap of faith in the dark. But such a leap contradicts the most common objection they have against religion. That's they are all "faith" based rather than evidence based. Their faith in evolutionary reliabilism is HYPOCRITICALLY contrary to their usually claimed method which excludes/shuns it. All other non-Christians must also reduce to some form of faith. Including, platonic atheists, other religionists who also claim an inspired revelation (e.g. Muslims), even those who hold to some form of mysticism and its various forms of epistemology and divine illumination.

    Continued in Next Post:

    1. If the doctrine of the Inner Testimony of the Holy Spirit is true, then the Christian's faith is not a mere leap in the dark. This self-authenticating testimony gives objective and warranted knowledge even if it is only partial, imperfect, and at times dubitable (i.e. Christians sometime have doubts, but always in God's providential plan). It's coupled with the external testimony of Scripture (or Scriptural truth). And has supplementary secondary confirmation in their fallible use of reason (which is part of being made in the Imago Dei) and discovery of the external world which is also revelatory though non-propositional. For Van Til, humans are surrounded by revelation within and without in general revelation, along with possessing the sensus divinitatis. In addition to those things Christians possess special revelation in Scripture and experience the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. Finally if one is a continuationists, there can be additional revelations (though only as submitted to the superior authority of Scripture).

      Van Til wrote in his Why I Believe in God, "My unity is that of a child who walks with its father through the woods. The child is not afraid because its father knows it all and is capable of handling every situation. So I readily grant that there are some "difficulties" with respect to belief in God and His revelation in nature and Scripture that I cannot solve. In fact there is mystery in every relationship with respect to every fact that faces me, for the reason that all facts have their final explanation in God Whose thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and Whose ways are higher than my ways. And it is exactly that sort of God that I need. Without such a God, without the God of the Bible, the God of authority, the God who is self-contained and therefore incomprehensible to men, there would be no reason in anything. No human being can explain in the sense of seeing through all things, but only he who believes in God has the right to hold that there is an explanation at all........I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other belief, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else."

      Non-Christian worldviews seem to mimic partially or in whole the Christian epistemology. It seems to me that the solution is not rationalism OR empiricism OR revelation OR mysticism. It's all of those things combined as it is in Christianity. Christians can make use of the empirical in a way naturalists cannot. Christians can make use of reason in a way that non-Christian rationalists cannot. Christians possess revelation in a way other religions do not (e.g. the Bible is true, while the Qur'an is false). Christians have direct access to the divine via the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit since the Holy Spirit is the genuine Spirit of Truth whereas other mystical religions have false spirits (e.g. Mormonism with its "burning in the bosom", Hinduism, various New Age religions, etc.).

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. BTW, I think man's conscience is another aspect of the general revelation that's internal to man. Along with any possible innate knowledge (whether explicit or tacit needing environmental triggers to bring to the surface).

      Here's a link to one of my blogs which have various links to articles, blogs and podcasts by others on the doctrine of the Testimony of the Holy Spirit (see especially the links at the bottom).

      Here are links to two interesting papers critiquing Evolutionary Reliabiilsm

      The Circularity of Evolutionary Reliabilism

      Two Senses of ‘Reliability’ in Evolutionary Epistemology

      Finally, I want to say that Calvinists deny that God's grace is always irresistible (Act 7:51). Nor do we claim that the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit is always indubitable. In God's providential plan, God grants such degrees and kinds of grace as necessary to elicit the response He has purposed according to His wise plan. This is why, even though God grants Christians enough grace (in principle) to resist every sin, we Christians still nevertheless sin. It's within God's power to grant such a degree and kinds of grace that Christians never commit any more sin for the remainder of their lives. But that's reserved for our glorification (or at least the moral perfection God brings us to upon death).

      Similarly, the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit can be given such that it inexorably results in a never wavering faith. But that too is reserved for when Christians enter heaven or at the return of Christ. Here on earth, to the degree that we attend to the Spirit's testimony, our faith and confidence will either wax or wane. But that too is in God's sovereign choice as to what degree and kinds of grace God grants or sustains at any particular time in a Christian's life.

    4. Oh, I forgot to mention that in Christianity Christians can escape the dilemma of either omniscience or global skepticism without having to become omniscient themselves or switching from being finite to infinite (which is impossible) precisely because they accept God's revelation about reality (which mirrors in a finite way God's own knowledge of the world; hence the phrase "thinking God's thought's after Him").

      I'm open for anyone critiquing, correcting or improving my views.

    5. Ryan said...
      In short, for a targeted belief to be justified, one doesn't need to know the whole context of that belief (i.e. everything else)... if partial knowledge is possible.
      But people seem to intuit this truth without answering the question of how they know partial knowledge is possible or that we don't need to be omniscient.

      And that's what Van Til taught we should press the non-Christian on. According to Van Til, non-Christians speak from both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, they claim or admit that nothing can be known for certain. On the other hand, they will claim and assert things as if they have certainty. They are always switching back and forth from skepticism to certain (or near certain) knowledge. For example, they will say that it's certain that the God of Christianity doesn't exist. Or that it's not certain that the Christian God exists. Or that it's certain that the Christian God's existence isn't obvious. Even though, when you press them for how they can have certain knowledge (of any kind), they have no answer. As I understand Van Til we're supposed to point out to them their epistemic hypocrisy. On the one hand they claim epistemic humility and make mere "modest" claims. On the other hand, they speak with virtual omiscience and infallible authority.

      Van Til was very much against probabilistic arguments. It would seem that he was inconsistent in that he allowed for the use of inductive empirical evidence. Frame disagrees with his mentor about how probabilistic arguments are dishonoring to God. However, (IMO) at the very least Frame showed how probabilistic SUB-arguments in a Transcendental argument (or supplementary confirmatory external sub-arguments) can be consistent with Van Til's apologetic. According to Bahnsen, Van Til taught that the non-Christian cannot account for any knowledge, probabilistic or not if they were consistent with their worldview. So, it would seem to me that non-Christians have no right to criticize probabilistic Christian arguments because they don't have the metaphysical and epistemic resources to gauge or caculate probabilities. In consequence, non-Christian cannot claim that Christian miracles like the resurrection of Christ are improbable or impossible.