Monday, July 14, 2008

Reason, Nature, and God

To continue on the theme of our cognitive ability to reason let us consider how it is impossible for nature to have produced reason. We use our reason in tandem with acquiring knowledge. Knowing something is distinct from what is known. Or as C.S. Lewis argues, “The knowledge of a thing is not one of the thing’s parts. In this sense something beyond Nature operates whenever we reason.” We can subdue natural emotions and physical responses by reason. A natural stimulus ought to cause a certain affect, but if we reason not to allow that affect the stimulus response can be subverted. While being a part of nature, we can still reason about nature and affect nature by reason, but nature cannot reason about itself. Nature is not rational. It has no intelligence. How can un-rational nature produce something rational like reason?

Either we accept that reason is not really reason at all and merely an instinctual non-rational response to stimulus of our environment of which we have no control or we realize that something outside of the natural world exist which is Rational and Reasonable who endowed us with the ability to reason. Hence, if you deny God’s existence, you also deny your ability to reason about the world in a rational way. You then lose your ability to rightly communicate knowledge for reason is not based on anything rational and is therefore irrational.

C. S. Lewis explains that, “It is only when you are asked to believe in Reason coming from non-reason that you must cry Halt, for, if you don’t, all thought is discredited. It is therefore obvious that sooner or later you must admit a Reason which exists absolutely on its own.”

Indubitably, the atheist will assert their reason and proclaim that since we have already come to the conclusion that it is impossible to argue against our ability to reason that some how evolution has transcended all logic and created in us the ability to reason about nature for it is unreasonable to believe otherwise. To that I would say that this would be a great miracle being attributed to a process of chance without being or rationality to bring it about. I think this would bring the skeptic to the unsupportable faith they accuse Christians of maintaining.

Maybe God’s existence is not so unreasonable after all. It would seem that without the Christian worldview the world lacks a standard on which to know anything for certain.


Non Sicuro Pensatore said...

"It would seem that without the Christian worldview the world lacks a standard on which to know anything for certain."

Okay Karla, you got me to come to your backyard now. A statement like the one you concluded with here is a statement that is so chock full of irony and you are completely unable to recognize it because of your lack of familiarity with the arguments from Scripture and from early church belief and practice for the episcopacy as practised by the Catholic Church.

The Protestant Christian worldview lacks a standard on which to know anything with certainty. I acknowledge freely that you believe the Bible is the standard and that the Holy Spirit guides Christians to use that standard rightly. But every heretic throughout church history and even today will claim that their heresy is founded upon Scripture and that the Holy Spirit has guided their particular heretical understanding of Scripture.

Karla said...

I know it is a huge claim and that you feel it is unsupported. Everything I have written on my blog and in comments in is support of the necessity of the Christian worldview.

You say the Protestant worldview lacks a standard versus the Catholic worldview? I understand that Catholicism endows the church government with special rights of determining what the church ought to believe about God.

Whereas Protestantism provides greater freedom for each person to follow the Bible as guided by the Holy Spirit.

Finally you spell out what you were getting at, because before this I felt you were trying to say that the entire church Protestant and Catholic believed that leaders ought to dictate doctrine.

Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. (I Tim 2:5 & Hebrews 8:6). Moreover, each Christian is a priest under the new covenant (I Peter 2:5 & Rev 1:6).

So that makes us directly connected to God to know truth. The combination of the Bible and the Holy Spirit which are not to contradict in truth allow us to know when a person is being a false teacher and putting forth ideas that are not true.

Yes anyone can take any verse from Scripture and make it say whatever they want and start a cult or something, but that doesn't mean that their view is valid. It is not difficult in those matters to search out the topic in the whole of Scripture to see if it lines up with the whole picture.

There are some things that are minor differences about how a thing is going to happen in the future or exactly how a thing happened in the past, and we only know in part (I Cor 13) one day we will know fully. The problem is when believers let those differences divide us as if they really mattered in the big picture.

Ephesians 4 is clear that the Church coming into maturity will end the church being tossed to and fro by every wind and doctrine and that leaders were given to the church to establish us in maturity. It never says leaders are to dictate doctrine.

Even the way Jesus taught he helped people come into the truth by questions and not by dictating the truth to them. Maturity comes not by being spoon fed what to believe, but in coming into intimacy with God and through that relationship loving truth and seeking to know what is true. Sure its not neat and tidy, but it is better for the heart.

So it is not preposterous to put forth that there is a standard in Christianity and that while there is freedom there is still a standard of truth that those who reject Christianity also must reject knowing truth at all. I have not encountered another worldview that provides a standard for the existence of truth and reasoning to know it.

Karla said...

P.S. for the purpose of my post, I also used "standard" in the most broad of meanings. Meaning a firm foundation on which the existence of truth is possible. I did not yet mean it to mean specifics on what that truth is. We cannot get to specifics if we deny the existence of the general.

Non Sicuro Pensatore said...

"Protestantism provides greater freedom for each person to follow the Bible as guided by the Holy Spirit."

This is the very definition of individualism and has been proven as a dividing force among Christians. This is not a "standard", this is an excuse for disunity.

The matter of church government is one example because Catholics believe that their system is biblically based, while Protestants believe that their various systems are biblically based.

The matter of whether baptism makes a person a Christian and whether it is for adults only or also for infants is another great example because Southern Baptists think their position is biblically based, while Presbyterians and Anglicans think their position is biblically based.

"Future maturity" is an excuse to ignore the continuing divisions upon divisions over whose understanding of the Bible and whose help from the Holy Spirit is legitimate.

I would like to see you actually interact with Catholic positions as presented by Catholics rather than using a straw-man summary. I think you will find that the "Me, My Bible, and My Holy Spirit" position cannot hold up as a "standard".

I know you will tell me again (as you seem fond of doing) that I am not right and that your position is well documented and well supported and that this sort of discussion is unhelpful until we nail down the issue relating to the existence of God. But once again, I think this posture is an excuse for avoiding real dealings with a very real objection.

Karla said...

I do not understand why you are arguing as a Catholic instead of as an agnostic? Most atheists accuse Christianity of being controlling and robbing them of their freedom. I haven't heard an agnostic/atheist argue that Christianity should take on a more confining role to be believable. I did not know I needed to defend Protestantism to you versus God's existence.

Also unity is a deeper matter than uniformity. Honestly, I am not trying to skirt around any issues. I really want to address your concerns. I also just posted another post defining my terms as we keep using them differently.

I have repeatedly addressed the issue of doctrine, church government and unity. I've even asked you to read Ephesians 4 to see what the Bible says. I'm not sure why you want to esteem human interpretation over God's words and Spirit? Or why a variety of perspectives lends itself to the whole thing being untrue?

I greatly respect Christians of the Catholic stream just as I do those of the Protestant stream. I have family and friends in both. It has never divided us just because our doctrine is different. We still serve the same God through the same Jesus and are part of the same body of Christ. This is unity.

I am sorry for your frustration. I am really trying to address your concerns.

Non Sicuro Pensatore said...

If you had been paying attention during our exchanges on my blog, you would know that the reason I am challenging your Protestantism is to expose your individualism and your ignorance of the fact that the "bible and the holy spirit" have been relied on for centuries and centuries to defend Christian beliefs which are contrary to yours.

This is a very logical problem with your certainty about (a) the existence of the Christian God, and (b) the desires/requirements of this God for his followers.

I have no interest arguing for the Catholic position except to show you that your certainty is mistaken. And since you are unfamiliar with the biblical basis for the Catholic beliefs which contradict your own, you are unable to actually engage in a debate on the matter.

Karla said...

The end result of Biblical and Spirit authority of truth is not disunity, but maturity and in turn unity. It's not about a "to each his own" mentality. I think you are simplifying Protestant teaching down to something it is not. I have no desire to argue for a certain stream of Christianity, but for Christianity as a whole. We cannot get to specifics if we disagree on the general. However, you maintain that because of the differences in specifics the possibility of a foundational truth is disproved. Are you then arguing that there is no truth religious or otherwise to know?

Non Sicuro Pensatore said...

1. No, I am not arguing that there is no truth.

2. You cannot argue for Christianity as a whole, because you do not know Christianity as a whole. You only know a specific stream of Christianity and this hinders your ability to understand and/or represent the "general" or the "foundational truths" accurately.

Karla said...

1) Without God's existence, you cannot establish the existence of truth.

2) I cannot argue specifics, not because I do not know them but because I have no common ground with you by which to discuss them. You cannot accept the authority of Scripture if you don't believe the God who wrote the Bible exist. Nor can you accept that we can be led in truth by the Holy Spirit if you don't believe God exist. And you cannot argue for the church establishing doctrine if the church has no purpose in existing if there is no God. We must first establish common ground.

Non Sicuro Pensatore said...

1) False. Can you prove otherwise?

2) False. Can you prove otherwise?

Karla said...

I will respond soon. I have some things going on that prevent my attention to my blog right now.

Karla said...

1) How can truth exist if we only evolved and our brain activity is merely a process of non-rational evolving? Evolution has no intellegence, it is merely a theorized process of how all the natural world came into being. How could that process produce truth? And how can we know truth if it existed if we are merely the same as all other nature. You can say we are higher evolved than other nature, but we are still nature itself if there is nothing beyond nature which gives us coginitive ability to look at nature from outside, to think about how things are from outside the cirlce of nature. That process, if real, could tell us that doing a certain something is not beneficial to us, but it couldn't establish the truth of right and wrong or good and evil. It could only say one thing will perserve our life and the other would be a detriment to our life. But it could not procude morality only instictual responses to our conditioned genes and environmental stimulus. It could not tell us what is true or good.

2) You wish me to explain why there are doctrinal disunities in Christianity regarding how to know what God wants from us. I would have to presuppose for the sake of argument God's existence and the Bible's authority as God's revealed Word. But you do not accept that foundation of thought, so how can I address your questions? I can explain it from a Christian worldview perspective, but you would have no reason to accept anything I say since you don't accept the foundations of my perspective.

We must start with (a) the existence of the Christian God before we can get to (b) what He wants from us and how he interelates with us

I am more than willing to discuss both, but I don't see how it is possible to discuss "b" before "a".

Non Sicuro Pensatore said...


You have helped me discover something about myself, thank you. I have discovered that I have neither the patience nor sufficient concern for your mental well-being to continue debating you.

I would like to explain how I came to this conclusion with your assistance, but I feel certain that the explanation would prolong our dialog, which is not desirable for me. Besides, I think a careful review of our exchanges on my own blog will reveal the explanation without me spelling it out.

Claim victory or superiority for yourself if you like. See you around.

Karla said...

I do not see ceased conversation as a victory nor am I seeking to win an argument. I appreciate your participation in this dialog and I am sorry I was unable to help answer your questions in a way that is meaningful to you. Take care. I wish you well in your philosophical journey.