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Your thoughts on Francis Schaefer?

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I haven't read that specific Christian writer, but he wouldn't be the first to make such claims, and he's just plainly wrong (about reason being the basis for Christianity, that is).

I prefer the religions that are just plain honest and say, "Our religion is based on lies and irrationality."

Only Objectivists can be true and rational because we know that God does not exist. If you believe that God exists, you contradict the basic tenants of Objectivism, and therefore believe A and non-A at the same time.

From contradictory premise anything false can be proved. :D

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't think Objectivists claim to "know" that God does not exist. That would entail first defining what or who "God" is, which Objectivism does not bother to do. Objectivists simply refuse to believe in things for which there is no evidence. "Knowing" and "not believing" imply different things.

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  • 4 weeks later...

To the question about Francis Schaefer, his works are substantial, covering law, economics, art, politics, theology and of course philosophy. He enjoyed critical acclaim from a number of academicians, theologians and sitting Presidents for his contributions to modern philosophy. His work on radical despair and existentialism, for example, points out claims that erroneous certainty disguised as philosophies - i.e. Existentialism (A fundamental requirement for Objectivism), are self-impaled by the same skepticism dogging the God-believers - unless of course one wishes to argue he or she is God incarnate, thereby omniscient - which according to the replies in this thread would not be "objectively" possible.

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His work on radical despair and existentialism, for example, points out claims that erroneous certainty disguised as philosophies - i.e. Existentialism (A fundamental requirement for Objectivism), are self-impaled by the same skepticism dogging the God-believers - unless of course one wishes to argue he or she is God incarnate, thereby omniscient - which according to the replies in this thread would not be "objectively" possible.

;)

I can't imagine any philosophy being more at odds with Objectivism than Existentialism. All that Existentialist doubt, despair and angst is so unlike the benevolent universe, purposeful achievement of knowledge and values, and heroic triumph of Objectivism.

Also, Objectivists hold that you don't need to be omniscient to achieve knowledge or values. Being really conscious of the things you are dealing with will suffice.

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:)

I can't imagine any philosophy being more at odds with Objectivism than Existentialism.  All that Existentialist doubt, despair and angst is so unlike the benevolent universe, purposeful achievement of knowledge and values, and heroic triumph of Objectivism.

Also, Objectivists hold that you don't need to be omniscient to achieve knowledge or values.  Being really conscious of the things you are dealing with will suffice.

Objectivists hold that you don't need to be omniscient to achieve knowledge or values.

Betsy - I enjoyed reading your note. It seems that AshRyan, Erandror and Marotta are certain of their knowledge, so how does one become epistemologically certain that the notion of God is arbitrary and yet accept consciousness of a finite mind as sufficient to ascertain knowledge....

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Betsy - I enjoyed reading your note. It seems that AshRyan, Erandror and Marotta are certain of their knowledge, so how does one become epistemologically certain that the notion of God is arbitrary and yet accept consciousness of a finite mind as sufficient to ascertain knowledge....

I'm certain of my knowledge too. A "finite mind" can know quite a number of finite things and I don't have to know everything in order to know something.

I am certain when I have enough evidence to reduce my conclusion to a statement of identity. For details, see my postings on the Hume thread.

That the concept of God -- at least the usual Judeo-Christian God version -- is arbitrary is certain by a simple deduction from what "arbitrary" means:

An arbitrary assertion is one presented without evidence.

God must be accepted on faith because there is no real evidence for his existence.

Therefore, the existence of God is an arbitrary assertion.

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That the concept of God -- at least the usual Judeo-Christian God version -- is arbitrary is certain by a simple deduction from what "arbitrary" means:

An arbitrary assertion is one presented without evidence.

God must be accepted on faith because there is no real evidence for his existence.

Therefore, the existence of God is an arbitrary assertion.

This is the dilemma of Bertrand Russell and Hegel. Once this assertion is posited, the non-existence of - in this case God - is equally arbitrary. This leaves us with the infinite unanswerable - there is no sufficient evidence to the pro, nor to the con. But because we are dealing with limited minds, objectively (epistemologically) we cannot posit any certainty, only hopes. Any evidence claiming to assert knowledge becomes the product of a finite sub-set of hopes, wishes and conjecture, which some call evidence and others call fairy tales. In the end, nothing is then provable and the objectivist is left with the problem that there is no evidentiary reality. At this point many humanists and existentialists in history chose suicide over despair for that which could be neither proven or negated. "I am an atheist but I think I am losing my faith." George Bernard Shaw

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Once this assertion is posited, the non-existence of - in this case God - is equally arbitrary. 

One doesn't -- and can't -- assert or posit anything at all about the non-existent. The only ones making assertions, and getting shot down for making arbitrary claims, are the theists.

This leaves us with the infinite unanswerable - there is no sufficient evidence to the pro, nor to the con.
Then the "cons" win. The "pros" had the burden of proof.

But because we are dealing with limited minds, objectively (epistemologically) we cannot posit any certainty, only hopes. 

We? Please speak for yourself! I guess you know better than I do just how limited your own mind is, but my finite mind is definitely, solidly certain of a finite number of things.

Any evidence claiming to assert knowledge becomes the product of a finite sub-set of hopes, wishes and conjecture, which some call evidence and others call fairy tales.
Are you saying that what you assert is the product of a finite sub-set of hopes, wishes and conjecture, which might be nothing more than fairy tales?

In the end, nothing is then provable and the objectivist is left with the problem that there is no evidentiary reality.

Objectivists don't have that problem, but many theists do. That's where abandoning reality in favor of fairy tales will get you.

At this point many humanists and existentialists in history chose suicide over despair for that which could be neither proven or negated.  "I am an atheist but I think I am losing my faith."  George Bernard Shaw

That's what happens when you try to live without values. An Objectivist like me leads a happy, successful life full of REAL values.

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Betsy - didn't mean to trouble you. I was simply pointing out that certainty without evidence is as much a problem for a relativist as it is for a theist, atheist or objectivist. My question to the group is 'How does one qualify evidence to be evidence?' To me something maybe fantasy, to you it would be life-or-death certainty. For example, your critique of my finite mind's inability to be certain could be shown likewise show your own mental limitations of certainty, and would leave both of us with the inability to assert "certainty".

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My question to the group is 'How does one qualify evidence to be evidence?'

Easy: reduce it to sense perception. What, do you think Objectivists just start with a bunch of random a priori beliefs, like Rationalists?

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TheCerebro:

My father is a christian and a big fan of Schaeffer. He has given me a few books by him; I know for sure I have "The Mark of a Christian", "Escape from Reason", "The God Who Is There", "He Is There and He Is Not Silent", and "How Should We Then Live?" I have not read any of them however, and probably will not for a long time - not until I have finished off classical philosophy first; I prefer to read philosophers' errors from the past 2000+ years in chronological order :(. So, to answer your question, yes, I have heard of him.

DNA:

You are arguing for a self-defeating position. You must assume certainty when making the statement "In the end, nothing is then provable", but by making such an assumption you deny your very statement. Either certainty exists and you are wrong, or certainty does not exist and you are wrong. Self-defeating positions leave their defenders no proper defense, aside from "stop defending self-defeating positions." As such, you are wrong and I strongly advise you to check your premises.

Currence

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Betsy - didn't mean to trouble you. I was simply pointing out that certainty without evidence is as much a problem for a relativist as it is for a theist, atheist or objectivist.  My question to the group is 'How does one qualify evidence to be evidence?'  To me something maybe fantasy, to you it would be life-or-death certainty.  For example, your critique of my finite mind's inability to be certain could be shown likewise show your own mental limitations of certainty, and would leave both of us with the inability to assert "certainty".

You're really asking, "Can we really know anything?" which is an invalid question. You can't ask - or answer - such a question without presupposing the very thing you are questioning. You can ask, "How do we know?" but not whether we can know.

We know by means of evidence and by being able to distinguish fantasy from reality, by being able to identify the logical connection between things. Without that you couldn't have knowledge. So to question that is to question the very possibility of knowledge itself, which renders the very question meaningless, and makes it impossible to answer.

As to how one "qualifies" evidence - by which I assume you mean judges whether evidence is sound or not - that's the purpose of careful observation and logic. Why in the year 2004, 100's of years after the Scientific Revolution, in the face of the existence of our advanced civilization and that we have gone from oxcarts to spaceships, are you still confused about that? I ask that not so much with the intention of insulting you, but it puzzles me in regard to anyone who, in this era, still holds on to the epistemological equivalent of primitive savagery governed by belief in superstition and magic

Fred Weiss

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  • 2 weeks later...
You're really asking, "Can we really know anything?" which is an invalid question. You can't ask - or answer - such a question without presupposing the very thing you are questioning. You can ask, "How do we know?" but not whether we can know.
Fred - No, I'm not asking that. What I am saying is that if you intend to use a human mind to posit certainty of knowledge, you are finitely limited, possibly flawed and likely to be usurped by the next person who wants to assert his or her view/evidence. AshRyan's view of sensory perception is a nice-sounding web-note, but leaves us with the assumption of human capacity to perfectly interpret. I could, for example, place you in an airplane at night in weather and ask you to use sensory perception to make your way to the ground. Your sensory inputs in a matter of moments will tell you (incorrectly) where it thinks earth and sky meet, if you are turning, etc. But the scientific term is vertigo, and you will likely be dead wrong in a few moments. I would not want to use objectivism as a means of engaging reality there.

Science is a discipline evolved by people seeking to refine knowledge. Yet evidence evolves, and so theories evolve and so science goes on seeking to get its theories "better". Certainty is either a leap of faith for the objectivist (I am sure I am right because my finite knowledge and my finite grasp of partial evidence is assumed comprehensive) or it is simply the pursuit of mythology (I choose to believe this because I do not want to believe that).

You are arguing for a self-defeating position. You must assume certainty when making the statement "In the end, nothing is then provable",

Currence - I'm using the tool of irony. I too believe in certainty, and you have supported my position. I am saying human knowledge in and of itself is incapable of certainty (This is a discussion of epistemology in the comprehensive sense right?) Thanks for your strong recommendation - I too agree we can in fact know.

I'm grateful for everyone's patience with my intrusion here - may I conclude with the observation that objectivism, with an obviously rich commitment toward the pursuit of truth, may for some be a simple repackaging of the numerous efforts in history [existentials, humanists, secularists, and so on] to say "the individual is self-sufficient in his capacity to know and to discern truth, whether or not the evidences from the academies and the intellectuals and the common man even closely match up with what I choose to believe." Aldus Huxley said his choice to not believe in a transcendant epistemology was not due to lack of evidence - he said it was because it freed him to pursue his own desires and pleasures.

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...if you intend to use a human mind to posit certainty of knowledge, you are finitely limited, possibly flawed and likely to be usurped by the next person who wants to assert his or her view/evidence. 

You are merely repeating your previous position, namely, questioning whether we can know at all - which as I said is invalid and self-contradictory.

That we are limited in what we can know, that we can err, and that people may have conflicting opinions does not invalidate knowledge. It merely underscores the necessity of a proper methodology for acquiring knowledge. (If we were omniscient we wouldn't need such a methodology).

We can know, can we not - and with absolute certainty I might add - that the earth orbits the sun? Such knowledge does not presuppose nor require that we know the orbit of every planet around every star in the entire universe. Nor does it mean that prior to the evidence of the earth's orbit which was first provided by Copernicus and then verified by Galileo and then made certain by additional observations by later scientists, that the first men - absent that conclusive evidence - might have been mistaken had they believed it. Nor is it any less certain should there be people who still think that the earth is the center of the universe. Nor is it any less certain even if they are absolutely certain of it, since obviously their certainty is not based on reason.

AshRyan's view of sensory perception is a nice-sounding web-note, but leaves us with the assumption of human capacity to perfectly interpret.  I could, for example, place you in an airplane at night in weather and ask you to use sensory perception to make your way to the ground.  Your sensory inputs in a matter of moments will tell you (incorrectly) where it thinks earth and sky meet, if you are turning, etc.  But the scientific term is vertigo, and you will likely be dead wrong in a few moments.  I would not want to use objectivism as a means of engaging reality there.

This is the same invalid assumption. You cannot ask whether the senses are valid, since any question about their validity assumes it. And you provide the evidence of that in your own example. How do you know that in bad weather it is difficult to land a plane except that your senses provide you with that information? And you know it is difficult because you also know - via your senses- how much relatively easier it is to land a plane in good weather.

And you don't use Objectivism to land a plane. You use your knowledge of flying...which knowledge you acquired, guess what, through your senses.

Planes take off and land without incident by the 1,000's every day all over the world. It must be a miracle.

Fred Weiss

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AshRyan's view of sensory perception is a nice-sounding web-note, but leaves us with the assumption of human capacity to perfectly interpret.

Would you explain what it means to "perfectly interpret", and how that connects to the validity of the senses? It seems to be that you don't understand the concept, and how the senses relate to higher-level knowledge.

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You are merely repeating your previous position, namely, questioning whether we can know at all - which as I said is invalid and self-contradictory.

We can know, can we not - and with absolute certainty I might add - that the earth orbits the sun?

And you don't use Objectivism to land a plane. You use your knowledge of flying...which knowledge you acquired, guess what, through your senses.

Planes take off and land without incident by the 1,000's every day all over the world. It must be a miracle.

Fred Weiss

Fred - Two false dilemmas in your reply. 1) Thus far we're critiquing your "A" and not any "B". To claim self-contradiction without the "B" is specious. 2) The penultimate use of the word knowledge versus the ultimate definition of knowledge is likewise causing you trouble. If we're discussing knowledge about growing good tomato plants, I'm right there with you. But epistemology does not accept the latest fad - such as Hawking's re-re-re-revision on black holes to be called knowledge. A theory yes, but it is not knowledge. I'm not stating "cannot know". I'm saying the human process imperfectly knows. Sometimes that does not matter much - knowing the difference between foods that sit well with you and those that don't for example. Then there are the big issues. Here it matters.

You are not certain about the orbit thesis. I believe we orbit the sun. Perhaps you do too. Such a theory conforms to the accepted mathematical models of astrophysics, and to the dimensional models of stellar cartography, but you and I lack exhaustive data to posit what you assert as "absolute certainty".

I've been a military instructor pilot for several years, teaching men how to fly warplanes. Your statement " in bad weather it is difficult to land a plane except that your senses provide you with that information" tells me you should rethink your knowledge about flying! Your senses tell you wonderful things. And they are wrong. We use eyes, ears and minds and fingers and hands and so on. But that incomplete perceptive knowledge is wrong. If you want to (statistically speaking) make it safely to the runway in bad weather, you better get knowledge outside your human and your individual perception. And we still find, despite your little miracle statement of 1,000's of planes - that crashes occur even when that knowledge is applied fully and correctly. But because we are human, and the instruments we use in flying are not perfect, the theory occassionally fails. If it is a bright sunny day - probably OK. With ceiling and visibility down to the tarmac - may not go so well.

And such is the problem with flawed minds, imperfect sensory interpretation (DavidOdden) and philosophies that are religiously clinging to the "power of the man" and the "power of the individual". On the small stuff - no big deal. On the big issues - where it counts - they are in the dark and claiming the opposite. We've been here before with some of the best humanist minds - and they proclaimed the futility and despair of their thinking as their lives ended. O'ism is simply a repackaged rerun of the renaissance, enlightenment, exitentialists, rationalists. O'ism - an evidentiary dead end, with Voltaire standing on the top of the pile proclaiming "tormented atoms in a bed of mud".

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  • 2 weeks later...

The point that Shaeffer always brought up was that reality is like a page of from a book has been torn down the middle. Ourselves and the world we live in are the half of the page that we have from birth. We can look at all that possible matches to our torn half, but none of them match til we hold up the Bible to it.

As for me when I read Shaeffer I was floored. I think that he had a great gift for seeing that general flow of worldviews and the flow of history, art, and philosophy in how that inter act together. Many have not liked his generalizing, but these are mostly professial philosopher who's jobs it is to not look at general themes flowing through multiple ideas, but to understand the details that create the diverisity in ideas. Norman Geisler my old professor told me that though he disagreed with Shaeffers in some areas that Schaeffer was one of the most greatest men he ever knew. One can say they have a grasp of modern Christianity who has not read all the works of Schaeffer. I find that most non-Christians over state their knowledge of modern evangelical thought. Starting with Carl F. Henry and Francis Schaeffer Biblical Christianity has entered a type of theological and Philosophical golden age that has not yet filtered down to the Christian masses. I think that in about ten more years the effects of this golden age will be seen on the popular level. Even now most all of the brighest cutting edge philosophers in the US are now theist if not Christians.

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The point that Shaeffer always brought up was that reality is like a page of from a book has been torn down the middle.  Ourselves and the world we live in are the half of the page that we have from birth.  We can look at all that possible matches to our torn half, but none of them match til we hold up the Bible to it. 

That metaphor has all the profundity of "Reality is like a stewed tomato."

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reality is like a stewed tomato. Man stewed the tomato but God created the tomato and the man and the metal for the pot and the water and etc.

Your metaphor was much better thank you.

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Guest jrshep
reality is like a stewed tomato.  Man stewed the tomato but God created the tomato and the man and the metal for the pot and the water and etc.

Your metaphor was much better thank you.

God is an insult to man, not necessarily to men or "mooks", but Man.

Try an experiment. Go out into some barren woods and look around you. Now, make any of the millions of wonderful things that man has made. All those material goods you can go and shop for most anywhere were made from the "dust of the Earth," from the raw material you'd see in the woods, or in the desert, or in the mountains, etc.

Just look at all the knowledge and ability that goes into a single car, or even a can of tomatoes. Can you can tomatoes? Can you even grow them? Perhaps after taking a second look, young fool, thank your lucky stars that many and certain individual men have thought and acted upon their own independent thougths, and made your own life so much better than it would have been had they not acted to make "stewed tomatoes."

God created man from the dust of the Earth? That's nothing compared to what man has created from the dust of the Earth. Why is it nothing? Because God never existed, never created anything, not one piece of sand. You, "mook," worship "Nothing"!

"God" is meant to insult Man. Why? To snub him, to induce an unearned guilt in him. Why? To rob him! Why? So "mooks" can live their petty lives, mocking the greatness of those whom they could never equal.

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