Friday, August 06, 2010

The Web of Truth

Is Christianity fideistic? Some militant infidels quote statements like the following to prove that Christianity is fideistic:

By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.

We affirm that canonical Scripture should always be interpreted on the basis that it is infallible and inerrant.

Does this prove their point? No.

I. Faith & Reason

To begin with, there are many different models of how faith and reason interrelate in historical theology. So it’s not possible to generalize about how Christians view the relation between faith and reason. For different Christians have different models.

II. The Heart Has Reasons

Some Christians don’t rely on theistic proofs or archaeological evidence. They may rely on things like the argument from prophecy. Of they may rely on their personal experience of God’s daily presence in their lives.


Is the AIG statement fideistic? Not obviously so. For that depends on why AIG believes in the definition. What evidence is feeding into the definition. For instance, AIG has lots of stuff on apologetics. So you can’t isolate their the definition their supporting material.

IV. Chicago Statement

What about the Chicago Statement? Well, consider the viewpoint of the framers. For the framers included Christian apologists like John Wenham, John Gerstner, John Warwick Montgomery, &c. But you can’t very well say these men were fideists.

V. The Web of Truth

As Quine pointed out many years ago, a belief-system is like a spider web. Some beliefs are more central than others. Some beliefs support the web in ways that others do not. Some beliefs are expendable with minor adjustments.

But every belief cannot be expendable, for you can only judge the evidence in light of certain other beliefs. For instance, it’s all well and good to appeal to scientific evidence, but that’s a nonstarter apart from certain metascientific presuppositions like the existence of the external world, the intelligibility of the physical universe, the value of induction, the applicability of abstract numbers and concrete things, the reliability of the senses, the reliability of the human mind, &c. Any attempt to prove these metascientific assumptions is bound to be circular. What kind of worldview is necessary to underwrite these metascientific assumptions?

1 comment:

  1. What do you say to the new atheist trend to label anything slightly theistic as "superstitious"? I mean, they're essentially redefining the word, are they not?