Friday, May 04, 2007

What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You

In the comments section of this post on Scripturalism an interlocutor going by the moniker "Carl" responded. Says Carl,

Paul, I see that your main objection seems to deal with the scripturalists incapability to rationalize everything. Did it ever occur to you that Clark's intention was not to deduce everything from scripture, but to remove the human tendency to rely upon rational belief?

In other words, I see no arguments for positive knowledge in this post. Can you really say that induction is knowledge when it is based upon a formal fallacy? If Clark is wrong and the scripture is not the only irrefutable truth, then you must provide us with the method for escaping his criticisms of empiricism and induction. Why did Clark reject empiricism? Why did he (and Hume) reject induction and the scientific method and why were they wrong to?

You see, if your criticisms of Clark are correct, which I do not think that you have read much of him, then you leave us with an epistemology that is philosophically reducible to scepticism. That, of course, is unacceptable.

By way of response:

i) Carl suffers from the inability to read proceeding information which could save him embarrassment and us time. As I already mentioned, my critique was specifically aimed against contemporary Scripturalists. If Carl wants to say that, say, Dr. Robbins and Mr. Gerety don't understand Clark, all I can say is, watch out for the backlash. For me, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I can always use more people, especially Scripturalists, critiquing Scripturalists. Now, if I've pegged Scripturalism correctly, and those men do understand Clark, then I fail to see how I don't understand Clark.

ii) I never said or implied that anyone's "intention was to deduce everything from scripture." In fact, my post is predicated upon the assumption that there are millions of things Scripturalists cannot deduce from Scripture. I don't think that they think they can deduce these things. Therefore, I am not under the impression that Clark or his followers need to deduce "everything" from Scripture.

iii) Apropos (ii). My point is that they don't know their own position. My point is that if they don't offer us knowledge then what they offer is, in Gerety and Cheung's own words, "mere opinion." So, they are simply opining about the myriad issues they rant against. They say Van Til taught X, thus he's a heretic. But they don't know that he taught X. It's their unjustified opinion. They say that Clark is a respectable man, but they don't know that. They cut their drug with battery acid. The product is impure. That's my argument, and you've simply confirmed it.

iv) Unfortunately, Carl doesn't know how a reductio ad absurdum functions. That's to be expected since Carl doesn't know much of anything. He asks me to substantiate how I know things. But that's the beauty of a reductio! I only use premises my opponent accepts. So, my critique follows whether or not I can put forth any account of how I know.

v) Notice that Carl refuses to move past where we've been for the last while now. He assumes infallibilism with respects to knowledge. But he can't deduce infallibilism from Scripture. Hence it is only his mere unjustified opinion that knowledge must be infallible.

vi) That induction is deductively formally fallacious begs the question. Who said knowledge is to be had only by propositions necessarily following from deductive premises?

To accuse induction of a deductive fallacy is akin to accusing a running back for balking! To accuse a basketball player of roughing the passer. To accuse a base stealer of traveling.

To assume that knowledge cannot be probabilistic is to beg the question. Clark wouldn't appreciate your maneuvers.

vii) Since "the Scriptures," according to Carl, are the "only irrefutable truth," and since the proposition "Scripturalism is the case" is not found in Scripture then it's either not true, or it's refutable. Hence the irrefutable is refutable. Now, this seems like "Van Tillian doublespeak," to quote Gerety and Robbins.

viii) Clark rejected empiricism (which I don't hold to, by the way) because of his infallibilist constraint on knowledge and his rationalistic Cartesian categories he was operating with.

ix) Clark frequently asks for the reliability of the senses to be "demonstrated." How 'bout if I deny this? How 'bout if I take them as basic? As T. Reid says, "Why should I distrust my senses any more than my rational faculties? They both came out of the same shop, from the same maker, if one is radically defective as a means to knowledge, why think the other isn't?" That's a paraphrase.

x) Why was Clark et. al. (funny how he stands Clark next to Hume of all people!) wrong to deny knowledge by sensation, induction, and the like? They were wrong to do so because Scripture, for one, tells us that we know things by our senses. So, Scripturalism is anti-Scriptural.

xi) Funny how my epistemology reduces to skepticism. Does Carl know this? Can he deduce infallibilism, internalism, and a whole host of other epistemic assumptions from Scripture? No. Does he know that there are other human minds here on earth with him? No. Does he know that he is on earth? No. Does he know that he us saved? No. Does he know that he can have assurance of salvation? No. Does he know he is a male? No. Does he know that he is not Gordon Clark after Clark took a spill and lost his ability to reason well? No. Does he know that Clark should have been ordained? Clark could have been a woman. Is he married? Does he know his wife is a female? If not, does he know that he is not engaging in a homosexual relationship? No. And my position reduces to skepticism! Does he even know his own Scripturalist position? No. What positive epistemological status does Scripturalism have, then? And I'm reduced to skepticism? I'm only so reduced based on Carl's definition of what knowledge is and what one must do in order to be granted the honorary title. Well, I deny his constraints and deny he can deduce them from Scripture. So, Carl holds me accountable to his mere unjustified opinions on epistemology.

xii) So, the next time Carl wants to respond perhaps he can check his opinions at the door. If not, debating him, on his assumptions, is much like standing outside the ice cream parlor and debating a fellow about whether chocolate is better tasting than vanilla.

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