Worldviews, Truth & Knowledge, Douglas Groothuis (S.S. Part 3)

This is a two-parter that is quite long, and technical. (It is the third part of a previous set [first, second].) You may also want a dictionary ready, this is a seminary level presentation. If you taken with this presentation[s] — knowledge of how we should better interact with our world and our culture comes through for those In His Service — ΙΗΣ.


PART 1

I.What is an Argument (Anthony Weston, Rulebook for Arguments)?

A. Philosophical argument: means of rational persuasion
B. Premises
C. Logical form
D. Conclusion
E. Validity and soundness
F. Clear language, consistent terms
G. Goal of good arguments: knowledge: justified, true belief

II. From Modernism to Postmodernism (Truth Decay, chapter two). See also Harold Netland, Encountering Religious Pluralism (InterVarsity, 2001), chapter two.

A. Distinguishing social conditions (-itys) from philosophies (-isms)
B. The premodern era (premodernity) – premodernist worldview
C. The modern era (modernity) – modernist worldview
D. The postmodern (postmodernity) era – postmodernist worldview
E. Postmodernism as a philosophy

1. No objective, universal, absolute truth; embrace of relative, pragmatic truths
2. Rejection of metanarratives; embrace of micro/mini-narratives
3. Rejection of essences, foundations; embrace of shifting surfaces
4. Language creates reality, does not reflect objective facts; self-enclosed, non referential, “prison-house of language”
5. Truth as “the new obscenity” (Os Guinness, The Journey)

F. Postmodernity as a social condition

1. The continuity with modernity regarding broad social forces
2. Breakdown of religious consensus; emergence of greater pluralism
3. The saturation of the self through communication technologies
4. Loss of cultural authority; Christianity loses it public face and voice
5. Surface over depth; image all the way down; factoids all the way down; etc.

III. The Christian View of (A) Truth and (B) What is True

A. Clarify the concept of truth, before getting to content of truth (Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There)
B. General concept and Christian: correspondence view of truth (more in Truth Decay, chapter four)
C. Biblical words for truth

1.Hebrew
2.Greek

D. Biblical Concept of truth: radical monotheism (Deuteronomy 6:4)

1. Revealed—not constructed, created by us (Hebrews 4:12)

a. Supernatural and personal source of knowledge
b. Not all is constructed; some is revealed, received, discovered
c. Language as God’s vehicle to convey truth

~ God as Logos (John 1:1 — 3), human in the image of God (Genesis 1:26)

2. Objective—not only merely subjective (Romans 3:4)

a. Truth above cultures; truth as judging all cultures equally
b. Some things can be known as they are in themselves
c. Not based on preference only—comfortable, uncomfortable
d. We are entitled to our own opinions, not our own truths

3. Absolute—not relative (John 14:1 — 6)

a. Invariant, noncontingent, nonnegotiable
b. No exceptions, exemptions, exclusions

4. Universal—not situational (Matthew 28:18 — 20; Acts 4:12)

~ Cross-cultural realities: reconciliation with God and others

5. Eternal—not trendy or trivial (Isaiah 40:8; Malachi 3:6)

~ Not ephemeral, fragile, conventional

6. Antithetical—not synthetic (Matthew 12:30)

a. Law of identity
b. Noncontradiction
c. Law of excluded middle
d. Law of bivalence
e. Not a matter of taste but of truth

7. Systematic, not fragmentary, ad hoc, arbitrary, piecemeal

~ All Scripture inspired; God cannot lie (2 Timothy 3:16 — 17; Hebrews 6:18)

8. Truth is not completely knowable by fallen mortals (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 13:9 — 12)


Part 2

IV. Relativism: Roots and Refutations (Corduan, chapter two)

A. Four laws of logic/thought/communication

1. Law of identity: “A” is identical to “A”
2. Law of contradiction (sometimes called the law of noncontradiction): “A” is not identical to “non-A”
3. Law of excluded middle: Not both “A” and “non-A”; not third option
4. Law of bivalence: any unambiguous proposition “A” is either true or false; not neither true nor false, not both true and false
5. Logic and God (see also, Geisler and Brooks, Come Let us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking, chapter one)

a. God is logical; does not break the rules (Isaiah 1:18: John 1:1
b. This is no limit on God, but a virtue. God cannot deny or contradict himself or tell a lie.
c. Omnipotence does not and can not entail actualizing logical contradictions

B. The challenge of relativism

1. Denies law of contradiction for statements
2. Or: makes truth relative to individuals or cultures
3. Conceptual relativism: every concept is relative
4. Moral relativism: only moral concepts are relative

a. Normative relativism
b. Individualist relativism

C. Six roots of relativism

1. The information explosion makes objective, absolute, universal knowledge impossible
2. The claim to objective, absolute, universal knowledge leads to totalitarianism and intolerance
3. The sincerity of religious believers means they cannot be wrong
4. “Buddhist logic” allows for contradictions to be true; only “Western logic” disallows this
5. Having individual rights means I can determine my own truth
6. Humility requires relativism; otherwise dogmatism

~ Tolerance requires relativism

D. Moreland against relativism

1. Descriptive relativism a weak thesis concerning principles
2. Against normative relativism

a. What is the morally relevant culture? Indeterminacy problem
b. May belong to more than one culture. Indeterminacy problem
c. Reformer’s dilemma; reductio ad absurdum
d. Some acts are clearly wrong whatever society you are in: we have knowledge of particular moral truths
e. One society could not blame another morally, given this theory; reductio ad absurdum

V. The Christian World View—Objectively: The Faith (Sire, chapter two; Groothuis, On Jesus, chapters 4 — 7)

A. World-view: assumptions about the basic make up of the world (James Sire, Universe, 16). See also David Nagle, Worldview: The History of Concept (Eerdmans, 2002)
B. Importance of world views, meta-narratives—for individuals and cultures
C. The Christian world view (J. Sire, chapter two)

1. God is infinite and personal (triune), transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign and good.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

2. God created the cosmos ex nihilo with a uniformity of cause and effect in an open system.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

3. Human beings are created in the image of God [Genesis 1:27] and thus possess personality, self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, gregariousness and creativity.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

4. Human beings can know both the world around them and God himself because God has built into them the capacity to do so and because he takes an active role in communicating with them.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

5. Human beings were created good, but through the Fall the image of God became defaced, though not so ruined as not to be capable of restoration; through the work of Christ, God redeemed humanity and began the process of restoring people to goodness, though any given person may chose to reject that redemption.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

6. For each person death is either the gate to life with God and his people or the gate to eternal separation [hell] from the only thing that will ultimately fulfill human aspirations.

~ Jesus’ worldview…

7. Ethics is transcendent and is based on the character of God as good (holy and loving).

~ Jesus’ worldview…

8. History is linear, a meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes in history.

~Jesus’ worldview…

9. Touchstone proposition: “The universe (originally good, now fallen and awaiting its divine restoration) is created by the Triune God, who has revealed himself in nature, conscience, Scripture, and through the Incarnation.” (D. Groothuis revision of Ronald Nash, Faith and Reason)


Appendix

I. Components of Knowledge (Corduan, chapter 3)

A. Need for an epistemology
B. Self evidence and epistemology

1. Analytic, necessary truths
2. Basic beliefs, religious experience
3. J.P. Moreland on religious experience (Scaling, 231 — 240)

a. Causal argument: explaining a changed life
b. Direct perception argument: sensory perception and numinous experience: seven common features

4. Immediate sensory awareness
5. Self-evidence is a necessary but not sufficient test for the truth of a world view; need more than self-evidence and religious experience

C. Rationality and epistemology

1. Logical deduction
2. Rationalism: Plato, Anselm, Descartes, Gordon Clark
3. The ontological argument: a priori argument extraordinaire. See Stephen Davis’s chapter in God, Reason, and Theistic Proofs (Eerdmans, 1997).
4. Rational deduction is a necessary, but not sufficient test for a true world view; need more than deduction

D. Sensory information and epistemology

1. Empiricism: open and closed
2. Teleological argument, naïve version (J.P. Moreland’s in Scaling is far better)
3. Sensory information is a necessary, but not sufficient test for the truth of a world view: need more than sensory information

E. Workability and epistemology

1. Pragmatism: it’s true if it works
2. Pragmatism and religious truth: conflicts
3. Evaluation of pragmatism; cannot be the meaning or definition of truth. Is one element of testing truth claims.
4. Workability a necessary, but not a sufficient test for the truth of a world view: working doesn’t make a belief true

F. A combination of criteria are needed to test the truth of a worldview

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