Epistemology Professor Christopher Ullman Christian Life College Everyone
Epistemology Professor Christopher Ullman Christian Life College Everyone has a concept of what is true/false. Each person decides how important truth is to him. Each of you know of ways to test a statement to see if it is true. These underlying presuppositions govern our thoughts, words, choices, and actions. 2 Consider these questions asked by thinking people What is truth?
Can we even define truth? Can we know truth? Can we know truth with certainty? Is truth merely opinion controlled by the dominant forces of our society? How is it that so many people have so many different views of truth? Is truth relative? How can we say something is false if we have no way of determining what is true? 3 Some truth tests Pragmatism: truth is that which works. If
something works, then it must be true. Coherence: there is an essential internal harmony of ideas. If something does not harmonize with the ideas that already cohere, it may not be true. Correspondence: truth corresponds to reality, identifies things as they actually are. 4 Poststructuralism is an intellectual movement that 1. completely rejects binary oppositions such
as true/false right/wrong good/evil, and 2. formulates views consistent with that rejection. These dualistic concepts are believed to be rooted not in reality, but in modernistic philosophy that has scripted Western thought and culture. 5 Postmodernism rejects the belief in universal absolute truth that transcends culture, time, and space by redefining it to say that truth is that which is Created Defined
Articulated by local (sub) communities. Young people today are choosing a postmodern worldview over and against all other worldviews. 6 5 Ways to Know Something Empirical: through sensed perceptions Rational: through reason apart from the senses Mystical: immediately, apart from the senses and reason Pragmatical: by finding out what works Authority: through a trusted source 7
Consider these questions asked by thinking people Can we trust our senses? What are the proper roles of reason and sense experience in knowledge? Are our intuitions more dependable than our perceptions? What is the relationship between faith and reason? Is knowledge about God possible? If so, how?
Should we appeal to mystical downloads for spiritual knowledge? 8 Sources of Knowledge 1. Reason alone (excluding faith) 2. Faith alone (excluding reason) 3. Faith + Reason (God created people to think rationally) 4. Intuition 5. Sensed perceptions 6. Authority 9 A Tale of Two Systems Continental philosophers taught that human
knowledge comes not originally or even primarily from sense experience, but from reason. This is rationalism. Rene Descartes: I think, therefore I am Baruch Spinoza: the essence of each and every thing is a way that God causes himself to exist Gottfried Leibniz: we have innate ideas, but all ideas that come from the senses are confused 10 A Tale of Two Systems Some problems arose for the rationalists The Theory of Ideas What you know when you perceive a brown table is the idea of a brown table. The key word here is know.
The Problem of the External World How do we know theres a world out there? The Problem of Other Minds How do I know that you have a mind? 11 A Tale of Two Systems The Rise and Fall of Empiricism Rejecting rationalism and innate ideas, three British philosophers come rushing into the room: 1. John Locke: The mind is a blank slate Sensed experience begins to fill it Reflection arranges it 2. George Berkeley: The objects of human
knowledge are ideas, not things You cannot know the carrot, but you can know the idea carrot 12 A Tale of Two Systems 3. David Hume: all that is real consists of sensations, and these are unconnected to one another What about things we do not personally experience? We cannot prove they are causally connected to anything else So we accept out of custom or habit that one idea is caused by another Knowledge boils down to non-rational operations of the soul We can stop our philosophical researches 13
Ontological The study of the nature of existence, or what it means to be: Is basic reality found in matter or physical energy (the world we can sense), or spirit/spiritual energy? Is reality lawful and orderly or chaotic? Is reality fixed and stable or everchangeable? Is reality friendly, unfriendly, or neutral in regard to humanity? 14 Basic Question In Epistemology Is there truth independent of
human experience? A Priori knowledge A Posteriori knowledge 15 A Priori Knowledge: Is independent of human awareness Is true whether humans know/accept it or not Exists prior to human experience Traditional science has upheld the superiority of a priori knowledge as it represents the fixed and permanent world that is uncontaminated by human knowers
16 A Posteriori Knowledge: Requires human experience for verification of truth/knowledge Modern philosophers claim a posteriori knowledge is superior, and that a priori knowledge does not even exist! 17 3 Basic Positions on the Objectivity of Knowledge: Humans are recipients in the knowledge process. Humans are participants in the
knowledge process. Humans exist as pure objects who become manufacturers of truth rather than recipients or participants 18 Sources of Knowledge: Empirical Knowledge: composed of ideas formed from observable data Sensory Knowledge: knowledge obtained through the Senses Revelatory Knowledge: knowledge that is revealed through a transcendent or supernatural reality that breaks into the natural order/reality
19 Sources of Knowledge: Authoritative Knowledge: accepted as truth because it comes from experts or is sanctioned over time by tradition Rationalism/Reason: emphasizes the power of thought & what the mind contributes to knowledge, the senses are not enough Intuition: knowledge that is not the result of conscious reasoning 20 Validity of Knowledge
Corresponding Theory Coherence Theory Pragmatic Theory 21 Validity of Knowledge - Tests of Truths Correspondence Theory:
theory fits the data collected & analyzed through research if the judgement corresponds with the facts it is true method most often used by those working in the sciences 22 Validity of Knowledge - Tests of Truths Coherence Theory: places
its trust in the consistency of harmony of all ones judgments a judgment is true if it is consistent with other judgments that have previously been accepted as true there is an agreement on the boundaries, logic & phenomenon of the theory 23 Validity of Knowledge - Tests of Truths Pragmatic Theory: there
is NO such thing as static or absolute truth people know only their own experiences the test of truth is in its utility, workability, or satisfactory consequences 24 Epistemology What is Epistemology? The Thetheory theoryor orscience scienceof of the themethod methodor
orgrounds groundsof of knowledge. knowledge. Websters WebstersDictionary Dictionary Thebranch branchof ofphilosophy philosophythat thatisis The concernedwith withthe thetheory
theoryof of concerned knowledge.ItItisisan aninquiry inquiryinto intothe the knowledge. natureand andsource sourceof ofknowledge, knowledge,the the nature boundsof ofknowledge,
knowledge,and andthe the bounds justificationof ofclaims claimsto toknowledge. knowledge. justification Feinberg Feinberg 25 Today Today evangelical evangelical Christians Christians stand
stand at at aa greater greater distance distance from from those those with with whom whom we we communicate communicate than than we we did did just just 20 20 years
years ago. ago. At At that that time, time, even even those those who who rejected rejected Christianity Christianity were were prepared prepared to to discuss discuss whether whether the the
evidence evidence for for Christianitys Christianitys truth truth was was adequate. adequate. Today, Today, this this is is much much less less frequently frequently the the case. case. Before Before we
we can can broach broach the the question question of of whether whether the the Christian Christian gospel gospel is is true, true, we we have have to to establish
establish that that such such aa thing thing as as truth truth exists. exists. 26 A Conversation Between Protagoras and Socrates (4th Century B.C.) Protagoras: Truth is relative. It is only a matter of opinion. Socrates: You mean that truth is mere subjective opinion? Protagoras: Exactly. What is true for you is true for you, and what is true
for me is true for me. Truth is subjective. Socrates: Do you really mean that? That my opinion is true by virtue of its being my opinion? 27 A Conversation Between Protagoras and Socrates (4th Century B.C.) Protagoras: Indeed I do. Socrates: My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you, Mr. Protagoras, are absolutely in error. Since this is my opinion, then you must grant that it is true according to your philosophy. Protagoras: You are quite correct,
Socrates. 28 Epistemology Self-defeating statements: I cannot speak a word in English. My wife has never been married. We cannot know anything about God. There is no such thing as truth. Truth cannot be known. 29 Epistemology A short history of western civilization: Three periods: 1. Premodern (400-1600 A.D.)
2. Modern (1600-1900 A.D.) 3. Postmodern (1960-present) 30 Epistemology Modern Premodern 400 1600 Postmodern 1960
31 PRE-MODERNISM: THE TIME AND WORLDVIEW WHEN TRUTH INCLUDES THE TRUTH IS HEAVEN GOD EARTH NATURE
UP THERE AND OUT THERE OTHERS SELF 32 PRE-MODERN WORLD
Embraced the objectivity of truth The preference was for a Platonist, or neoPlatonist notion of reality There is an objective, or external realm that is transcendent Reality existed independently of any individual apprehension of it For the Christian pre-moderns, this independently existing realm of transcendence was the mind of God. Erickson, Evangelical Interpretation, 100. There was a belief in the referential understanding of language; that is, language 33 PRE-MODERN WORLD
There was belief in the Correspondence Theory of Truth which asserted that true ideas are those that accurately correspond to the state of affairs as it is. In terms of hermeneutics, the pre-modern period accepted that the meaning of a text was . . . within that text in a rather literal or straightforward fashion. . . . Hermeneutics was in this approach virtually equivalent to exegesis. The premodern understanding of reality was teleological. There was believed to be a purpose or purposes in the universe.
34 MODERNISM: THE TIME AND WORLDVIEW WHEN TRUTH INCLUDES THE TRUTH IS EARTH INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE REASON ONLY
OUT THERE 35 Epistemology Postmodern Modern Transitio n 19001960 36 POST-MODERNISM: THE TIME
AND WORLDVIEW WHEN TRUTH INCLUDES THE TRUTH IS INDIVIDUALS GROUPED IN COMMUNITIES ONLY IN HERE 37
POST-MODERNISM: Impact Ideas have legs! It is impossible to understand postmodernism without noting its impact on our culture What begins in the ethereal realm of the academy eventually will show up in popular culture The Arts Architecture Literature 38 Truth and Tolerance In
In Postmodernism, Postmodernism, there there is is no no objective, objective, universal universal truth; truth; there there is is only only the the perspective perspective of of the the group.
group. .. .. .. In In postmodernism, postmodernism, all all viewpoints, viewpoints, all all lifestyles, lifestyles, all all beliefs beliefs and and behaviors behaviors are are regarded regarded as as equally equally valid.
valid. .. .. .. Tolerance Tolerance has has become become so so important important that that no no exception exception is is tolerated. tolerated. Charles Charles Colson, Colson, 39
Modernist Objections to Christianity 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. What about all the contradictions? God is just a crutch. Religion was invented by man. Jesus was just a man. The Bible we have today is not the same as when it was written two thousand years ago. I dont believe in what I cant see. Evolution has proven Christianity to be wrong. 40
Modernist Objections to Christianity 7. 8. 9. 10. The Bible is a myth full of fairy tales. How did Noah get all of the animals on the Ark? There are no such thing as miracles. Do you really believe in the story of Adam and Eve? 41 Postmodernist Objections to Christianity
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. If God exists why is there evil? The inquisition and the Crusades show that Christianity is oppressive. Christianity is a way to God but not the only way. Christianity is arrogant and exclusive. How do you know that your Bible is better than other religious writings? Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? 42
Postmodernist Objections to Christianity 7. 8. 9. 10. What about those who have never heard? The church is full of hypocrites. Why would God send anyone to Hell? The God of the OT is cruel, partial, and unjust. 43 Modernism vs. Postmodernism: Objections to Christianity
Modernist Postmodernist Facts Rationality Evidence Fairness Relationships Emotion` 44 Modern View of Truth Correspondence view of truth: (1) Truth is an objective reality that exists whether
someone believes it or not, (2) and (to the modernist) that objective reality has no definite basis. 45 Modern View of Truth True statements are that which correspond to that objective reality. False statements are those that do not correspond to that objective reality. 46 Modern View of Truth Law of non-contradiction does apply A -A at the same time and in the same
relationship. 47 Modern View of Truth What is an example? Key Motto: Man can and will know all truth. 48 Postmodern View of Truth Relativism: what is right/wrong, true/false is determined by some group. Subjectivism: what is right/wrong, true/false is determined by each individual. Pragmatism: what is right/wrong, true/false is determined by what works.
49 Postmodern View of Truth What is an example? Law of non-contradiction does not apply A = -A at the same time and in the same relationship. No objective truth Key Motto: The truth cannot be known. 50
Postmodern View of Truth Religious Spin on Postmodern Epistemology Universalism: All will make it to Heaven. Pluralism: Many ways to God that are equally valid. Syncretism: Assimilation of differing beliefs and practices. Inclusivism: Salvation is only through Christ, but Christ may be revealed in other religions. 51 ENGAGING THOSE WITH POSTMODERN WORLDVIEWS 1. 2. 3. 4.
5. Acknowledge your culture-encoded version of Christianity Affirm truth, love and compassion Magnify the importance of faith perspectives Show respect Learn to listen to and tell postmodern stories 52 The Second Vatican Council: Roman Catholicism slides into universalism 1962-1965 But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the creator. In the first place among these there
are the Moslems, whom professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful god, who on the last day will judge mankind. Those also can attain salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his church, yet sincerely seek god and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Q. Why support mission evangelism any longer? 53 Christian View of Truth What is the Christian view of truth? Correspondence view of truth: (1) Truth is an objective reality that exists whether someone believes it or not, (2) and that objective reality has God alone as its objective basis.
54 Christian View of Truth The law of non-contradiction is a foundational necessity to all truth. God cannot even violate this principle since it is a logical impossibility. 55
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