It's good of you to clarify; I was talking about truth in a more cosmic “do we understand everything about reality” sense. I agree that when you make a vague statement of fact like “there are cows in my pasture” it is perfectly possible for it to be absolutely true. (if nothing else you could make opposite statements, so one of them would have to correspond to reality)
Only the Creator God can understand “everything about reality.” If we knew everything, we would be infinite like Him. But we can know in a finite way truth that is knowable. Then you say that it’s “perfectly possible for it to be true.” To say this you have to “know” that it is TRUE that it’s perfectly possible for it to be true.”
Aleyn, I’m not playing word games with you here. I’m trying to show that truth exists and we can know truth. Something else to think about is that we can know some things are true because of the impossibility of an alternative. Either it’s true that God exists or it is true that God does not exist. And we have no third alternative.
Is the alternative to a non-existing Creator God possible? If God did not exist, you and I could not do what we are doing here—reasoning to reach truth. You are the only organism on Planet Earth that can reason and “know” truth. Our belief that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other is not at all based on the fact that they have never been otherwise in the past; we can reason and “know” that they were equal in the past, are equal now, and will be equal into eternity.
Also, to know something, you have to have to believe you have a good “reason” to know it’s true. I can proclaim in this post: “I know that I am going to win the Texas lottery this year.” Even if I do win the lottery this year, I really did not “know” I was going to win. My belief was “arbitrary.”
The atheist, who denies a Supernatural Creator God, has no rational reason to know that he can reason (using laws of logic) to reach truth. His belief that laws of logic and rational thought exist is an arbitrary one. He denies that anything but the material world exists but then uses the immaterial laws of logic and rational thought to argue that only matter exists. This can be likened to arguing that there is no good argument or trying to argue that the Law of Non-contradiction does not exist while using it to argue that it does not exist.
What I’m doing here, Aleyn, is showing you that God exists because of the impossibility of an alternative. Our ability to reason must come from reason. It can’t come from an immaterial reasonless rock. Our ability to reason comes from reason (our parents), and our parents from our grandparents, and so on. But eventually we must reach a Reason that does not owe existence to anything else. This Reason must be self-existent and must have always existed, for even God could not bring Himself into existence if He did not first exist. Nor could He ever cease to exist and then bring Himself to re-exist.
There is still the issue of us knowing absolutely whether it is true or not. I don't think that's possible; hallucinations exist, and people get tricked by their brains in even more bizarre ways all the time. There are quite a few brain disorders that not only impair people's abilities (like, for example, making them blind on one side), but makes them unable to realize this. They don't directly perceive they have a problem, and so they refuse to believe they have one. Now if I were in such a situation I would like to be at least theoretically capable of realizing the truth, that someone could tell me “you've got this form of visual agnosia” and that with enough evidence, explanations and experiments I could be convinced that this was indeed the case. If I believed that something as simple as looking out the window and seeing cows were absolute 100% undoubtable proof that cows were there then this would be impossible because no evidence could outweigh my own direct perceptions.
“There is still the issue of us knowing ABSOLUTELY [my emphasis] whether it is true or not.” All truth is absolute by definition. Truth is absolutely true for all people, times, and places. I am being dogmatic here, but everyone who claims anything to be true is dogmatic. It’s impossible to live on this earth and not claim that something is true—even the relativist who claims that all truth or morality is relative. But if the relativist’s argument were true, it would self-destruct.
How can you know that what you posted here is true? And if it were true, how could you know it’s true? Now of course, our brains can be damaged and we can see things that are not there. But with second and third frames of reference, we can know. Einstein postulated that if two spaceships were approaching each other, neither could ascertain who was moving and who was stationary. But a third and fourth frame of reference could verify that both were moving or just one. About a year ago, I had my knee replaced with a metal one. I am allergic to just about everything, including the pain killers. I lost all touch with reality and I was back in the military and went on a secret mission to Bogota, Colombia and came back speaking Spanish. My two frames of reference with reality were my wife and my nurse. Not only did they have a difficult time convincing me that I had not been in South America, they had to persuade me I was not fluent in Spanish.
Aleyn, if you’re having reservations that you could not know for sure that you lived on a ranch, and that you owned cows, then please do not cross the street by yourself for it has to be “100 percent undoubtable” that a truck is not coming that will run you down. I’m trying not to be too harsh here, but someone has sold you a false bill of goods that you can’t know truth. Your “perception” of truth does not make a matter true. The laws of gravity were true long before Newton wrote them down in math equations. It was true that the earth revolved around the sun long before we perceived that it did so. While we did not know this in the past, it does not follow that we can’t know truth in the future.
Recall that I defined a worldview as a set of presuppositions we use to interpret the reality we encounter. If our worldview is a false one, then we can reach truth only by accident or by being inconsistent with our false worldview. One of the presuppositions we must have to use science is we must take it for granted that the universe is understandable (that it can be quantified in a way our minds can comprehend). We must assume the universe is logical and orderly and that it obeys mathematical laws that are consistent with time and space. The problem for atheists is that such regularity only makes sense in a biblical creation worldview. (Recall that I posited that if one does not have a rational reason to assume something is true then one can’t really know it’s true.) Atheists are able to do science because they are “inconsistent” with their worldview. They accept biblical principles such as uniformity in nature while simultaneously denying the Creator God who imposed this uniformity on the physical universe. Atheist scientists deny that the universe was designed but then perform experiments as though it is designed and upheld by God in a uniform way. They can do science only if they abandon their atheist worldview and step into the creationist’s worldview.
Now one could argue that brain disorders aren't random, they do some things and not others, and that there are some experiences that can NOT be simulated by a brain problem. I don't know if this is true or not. If it were true that would still leave the basic Matrix or Last Thursdayist scenarios to deal with for someone who believes they can know the absolute truth (in fact Last Thursdayism is an absolutely serious physical hypothesis but that's another story).
You’ll have to forgive this old man, but I saw only the first episode of The Matrix (with my grandson). And as I recall, he had to explain it to me on the way home. But what I got out of it was that humans were not living in the real world. They were used as power sources and were fed information into their brains to make them think they were living normal lives. I’m here to help you to get out of The Matrix (the atheist/relativist worldview). In the movie, only another person could free the deceived person and bring him back into the real world. The good news for you is that you can free yourself. Besides, it’s not really possible for the atheist be be consistent and live in his worldview.
And to answer your last question: I am quite confident that what I posted above is true. I have given a few reasons why, I could give more if you wanted. I am not as confident of it as I am of some other things, but I'm confident enough about it to say it's what I believe. I don't know what “know” in quotes means. Is it supposed to denote 100% certainty ? I don't “know” anything in that sense that I can think of.
For clarity, your Post 33: “Yes. That is, I believe reality exists and as far as I can tell it's the same thing. I don't believe humans can know that truth however, our beliefs can only approximate it. Which is good enough in my opinion.”
Here you argue that humans can’t know truth. In this post you argue that what you posted is true. How can you know that it’s true if you “don’t believe humans can know that truth”? Fact: There is no relativistic argument that does not self-destruct.
If I came across as scolding you I apologize, that wasn't my intention at all ! Me scolding others for being long-winded would be the rankest hypocrisy I just meant it as a neutral statement of fact, really.
I am long winded. I admit it.
You'll have to explain this bit. Circularity is an either/or property; if an argument is “a little circular”, then it's circular, and circularity is not acceptable. A system of reasoning that allows circular arguments will allow anything, and this leads to contradictions. The laws of logic are the axioms of any system of logic. You don't prove they exist, you say they exist.
First, before I explain, I must point out that you can’t live consistently in the atheist worldview. If you first argue that you can’t know truth, then you are inconsistent when you argue for the absolutism of the law of non-contradiction (either/or). This law says that two contradictory premises can’t be both true and not true at the same time in the same way. The Christian believes that the laws of logic are absolute, invariant, and universal. So I must ask you:
How can you use the law of non-contradiction in a relativistic worldview?
Do you believe that the laws of logic are absolute or do you believe they are conventional (what’s agreed upon by men or a society)?
Now you can show that those rules are useful, or reflect the way the Universe works, or very probably don't lead to contradictions, by induction. And you can make induction mathematically rigorous by using Bayesian probabilities. In fact you should do that, because induction and bayesian reasoning are much more productive than pure Aristotelian logic. But it's a different process, and even there circularity is not acceptable.
From the internet: “To demonstrate an application of Bayes' Theorem, suppose that we have a covered basket that contains three balls, each of which may be green or red. In a blind test, we reach in and pull out a red ball. We return the ball to the basket and try again, again pulling out a red ball. Once more, we return the ball to the basket and pull a ball out - red again. We form a hypothesis that all the balls are all, in fact, red.”
The only logic I want to use is logic that reaches truth. If Bayes used his probability logic on swans, he would conclude that all swans were white—until he saw a black one. So while this logic can be productive (?) it does not necessarily reach truth. And one could still not be a relativist and argue that Bayesian logic is absolutely true. Right?
Now to the issue of circularity: For clarity I will define begging the question fallacy or reasoning in a circle. This fallacy is committed when the person merely assumes what he or she is trying to prove or when the premise of an argument actually depends on the conclusion. An example: “The Bible must be the Word of God because the Bible says it is. And what it says must be true, since God can’t lie.”
When one of these statements is used as the sole support for the other, the argument commits the fallacy of begging the question. This same line of argumentation could be used to prove the Koran.
Begging the question is a “strange” fallacy because it is actually valid. Any logic class or book will verify that a valid argument is one in which the conclusion does follow from the premises. Most of the time, fallacies aren’t valid because their conclusion does not logically follow from premises. But what’s odd about begging the question is that the conclusion does follow from the premises (because it restates the premise or premises). So the argument, “Evolution must be true because it is a fact,” is valid. So, then why is it a fallacy?
Having said all that, there are special cases where circular reasoning is unavoidable and not fallacious. Recall I said that begging the question is not invalid but is considered fallacious if it is arbitrary. But what if it were not arbitrary? There are some situations where the conclusion of an argument must be assumed at the outset.
a. Without laws of logic, we could not make an argument.
b. We can make an argument.
c. Therefore there must be laws of logic.
While circular, this argument is reasonable and valid. This argument is using a law of logic called modus tollens to prove that there are laws of logic. So, here we have assumed which we are trying to prove. So it’s unavoidable that we must use logic to prove anything—even the existence of laws of logic. However, the argument is not arbitrary. We have a good reason for assuming laws of logic because without them we could not prove anything. Anyone doubting the existence of laws of logic would have to use them to make his argument—self defeating.
You talk as if everything that isn't based on deductive Aristotelian logic is "arbitrary", but that's a false dichotomy. Methods like induction, Bayesian reasoning or criteria like "usefulness" are things deductive logic has nothing to say about, but there's nothing arbitrary about them.
I addressed the Bayesian logic above. “Usefulness” is not a determinant for truthfulness. Just turn on the TV and listen to a politician. His illogical reasoning is useful to achieve his ends, but it is not necessarily true. I am arguing for logic that reaches truth—which you are unsure exists or knowable.
Just knowing God created the laws of logic isn't a rational reason to know why there are laws of logic anymore than "because Leonardo da Vinci painted it that way" is the full answer to the question "why is the Mona Lisa smiling ?". Why did God create laws of logic ? Why create these laws of logic ? Is God himself logical ?
I will answer your last question first. God is logical. If He were not logical, then you could not be logical. Laws of logic are not part of the physical universe and the atheist materialist can’t argue that they come from matter.
Actually God did not “create” laws of logic.” Rather they describe the way God thinks. Laws are not created. Physical laws describe how the universe functions. Moral laws describe God’s moral nature. Thus, for the Christian there is an absolute Standard for reasoning. We are to pattern our thoughts after God. The Christian has a rational reason to know why there are laws of logic. We are made in His image (Gen. 1:26) and can follow His example (Eph. 5:1). Jesus (who is God the Son) said, “I am the Truth.” Jesus can’t lie for He would deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). All truth is in God (John 14:6; Col. 2:3).
Why Mona Lisa is smiling is not very important when weighing our eternal existence. I am not asking you to accept my justification for the laws of logic. But I have a rational reason within my worldview to account for them. You argument of equivalency to the Mona Lisa is not a very good one. I have a rational reason which is non-arbitrary. The atheist does not.
I didn't say it was. I wasn't even talking about my own standards. You said we needed an Ultimate Standard; I asked why logic itself couldn't be one. As for me, I think looking for an “ultimate standard” is an interesting exercise but the exercise itself is more interesting than the result. At the end of the day my beliefs rest on the sum of my experiences and thought processes, not a single Ultimate Standard.
“… the sum of my experiences and thought process.” Are you an empiricist? Definition: This is the idea that all knowledge is obtained by observation (experiences). If you do not have a ultimate standard that proves itself and by which all else is proved, then you can’t really know anything. Please read my Post 13.
I'm not sure what that example was meant to illustrate, but if you're trying to make the point that absolute knowledge exists I think it's a rather strange choice. "In the real world" crossing the street is a very complicated decision that requires managing uncertainty and risk. It will involve uncertain factors like the speed of cars and how they will change their speed in the future, how likely it is that there are additional cars or vehicles one hasn't seen, how likely it is the drivers will see you, how fast you can cross the road and how likely you are to get run over if you stop in the middle, in how much of a hurry you are and so on. It's very hard to reach zero risk (although when I was a little kid I certainly tried : I wouldn't cross the road if I could even see a car. Sometimes I waited a long time), and in practice you don't, you just minimize the risk as much as you feel comfortable with. And in fact pedestrians get run over all the time, which they wouldn't if they were imbued with absolutely true knowledge of whether it was safe to cross or not.
Aelyn, let’s cut to the heart of the issue. Can you or can you not KNOW that a truck is coming when you cross the street? But I will excuse you, for just as you have no rational reason to justify laws of logic, you have no rational reason to justify the existence of truth. The Christian does. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Deut. 5:20). If truth did not exist, then a false witness could not exist and God could not hold anyone accountable for being a false witness.
Aleyn, I will give you one more scenario and I must ask you not to equivocate. Please give a straight answer. If you were on trial for murder and you were innocent of the crime, would you want three truthful witnesses to testify that you were 200 miles away at the time of the murder playing poker with them?