A few relevant comments (of mine) from a thread at Wartburg examining the idea that TRUTH cannot practically or functionally exceed man’s frame of reference: his context; his universe; his ability to reason (to know/understand/apprehend/declare/believe)

The following is excerpted from a debate I had with a commenter who calls himself “LT”.  You can see his responses at Wartburgwatch.com, under the topic of “On YEC Interpretation of Scripture and Their Use of Technology”.  I only posted mine because disseminating my perspectives and beliefs on these issues is the point of this blog (notwithstanding comments by people who may disagree, and they are always welcome…with the exception of one, who is blustery, bullish and confuses rational debate with denigration, name-calling, and demanding we use his subjective opinions as the “truth” from which we are arguing.  A typical stiff-necked Calvinist in good standing with his local church, I’m sure.  Ew.).    Anyway, if you want to know why I haven’t posted in a while…well, here’s why.  🙂

I have corrected some grammatical mistakes (but likely not all…I suck at editing; or I’m lazy, or both…yeah, probably that), and have changed “abstract” to what should be (and now is) “theoretical”.  Also, I have added to or deleted portions of my comments, or edited them, in order to better reflect my point; which sometimes gets obscured when in the heat of argument and when at the distinct disadvantage of using the crappy Apple I-phone virtual key pad to type responses to your opponent in a heady philosophical debate (note:  don’t do this; it is a rank pain in the ass).

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Your logic is based on an assumption which I do not concede. I believe time is merely a HUMAN way to quantify movement. Time is purely theoretical, then. There is no such thing as 24 hours prior to man determining a quantification known as time. Thus, there could be no 24 hours for God to create in, because man was not there and time is purely a function mans ability to measure.

My primary problem is with the term “day”; another human definition. None of the concepts used to explain Genesis existed before man did. Thus, Genesis must be metaphorical, or allegorical (or whatever the hell the difference is…I always get confused), or illustrative (which might be the same as metaphor and allegory; really who the hell knows?), or figurative, or theoretical, etc. etc.

With respect, we need to stop confusing assumptions with reason.

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Human reason is the only way real truth can be acknowledged, and objective logic is a merely a component of that reason. Any idea beyond that is moral relativism. Human ABILITY to reason is not the same thing as reason. LT you are confused about the two.

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Death knell to my reason? Hmm…that is outstanding hyperbole. The “bind” is merely the same “bind” I have been in since I removed myself from false reformation teaching. It is the bind which declares that if I do not accept your interpretive assumptions on anything, I must be wrong. And this is precisely why your argument is tautological. I don’t agree with you so I’m wrong; I’m wrong because I don’t agree with you. “Since I once thought I had reason, but didn’t, I can never have reason” is precisely the argument you made. How can you deny this? Your very argument says that because I was once wrong in what I thought was reasonable (e.g. Calvinism), objective reason cannot exist. That is irrational. Again, purely tautological: Because I was wrong, I can never be right…why can’t I be right, because I was once wrong. And THAT, LT, is moral relativism. By this argument of yours, there is NO such thing as right or wrong in your “philosophy”. Right and wrong are meaningless…subjective, irrelevant. I can’t be right, because I was once wrong means that the only real truth that I can grasp will ALWAYS be wrong because the whole of my ability to reason is merely the ability to be wrong.

Try as you might your entire argument is rooted in the idea that reason is ultimately subjective because it is rooted in MAN’S ability to reason (which is NOT the same thing as reason itself (is the ability to drive the same thing as driving? Of course not…you may be able to drive, but if it manifests itself into willfully driving into a ditch, then the outcome of that ABILITY is irrational; the ability to drive CAN lead to actual rational driving, but it doesn’t always, but that doesn’t change that their is a separation between the ABILITY to drive and actually driving). This is the functional idea of saying man can never know anything at all; a root premise of Calvinism. It is why Calvinism is destructive and irrational and gnostic; all truth is God’s truth. Since man is not God, then man can, by definition never have truth.

You want to see a bind: there it is.

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Yes. Subjective truth is an oxymoron. You got me there. Er…I guess?

You know what I meant. I use that term to illustrate the absurdity of Clavinism. They claim truth when by their own theology there can be no truth that man can know.

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Human ABILITY to reason is not the same thing as reason. LT you are confused about the two.

Yes, I said that, and I fully stand by it. You are confused about the two. You are attempting to declare there is such thing as human reason (what seems reasonable to humans) and reason in general. That is false. there is only human ability to know what he knows and believes, and there is reason; that is, what can be shown and verified as objectively true according to the existential realities of man. As a function of man’s ability to reason (to believe what he believes, or know what he knows), he may assume something is true when it is not.

There is NO such thing as human reason. There is man’s ability to think, chose, will, and decide, and this is rooted in his ability to process and organize his reality via the senses; and there is what is objectively true. The same ability to reason by which man can believe that which is false is the same ability by which he can believe and apprehend that which is TRUTH.

That is what I mean by all truth is a function of MAN’S frame of reference. If truth falls outside of man’s ability to apprehend it (his frame of reference; his ability to reason; or, to know and understand), as you seem to suggest, then it cannot BE truth to him at all, because it is irrelevant to his frame of reference and thus to him, and God is a hypocrite.

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According to Calvinism, man is at his root depraved; totally. Any vacillations in man’s behavior that any Calvinist would call a function of “truth” or “free will”, is a logical fallacy. There is no such thing as irrelevant truth. There is no such thing as irrelevant free will. If the objective outcome of YOU is always a function of NOT you (your “sin nature” or “God’s will/control/sovereign grace”), then there is no such thing as free will, there is no such thing as real understanding, no such thing as truth because there is no such thing as man. Man is always a function of something ELSE.

That is the contradiction which I once accepted, which I know understand, by the same ability, is false. It is NOT reasonable.

LT, you said “my reason is untrustworthy”. The logical extension of that, the implicit idea is that, because of this fact, I can never rely on my ability to reason (my human reason) to declare that I can know anything true. This IS the logical extension of your argument; whether you “said” it or not is irrelevant. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant. IF I cannot trust my reason because I concede I was wrong in the past, it is impossible to ever have truth. If ALL human ability to reason is suspect because humans can be wrong, the extension of your argument is that the categorical sum of man’s ability to reason is simply to perpetually assume that he is WRONG. In this case, man can never have truth since all of man’s knowledge is defined by being wrong. He can never trust anything he knows, because the root of his understanding purely his ability to be WRONG.

You need to go back and read what you wrote. This is precisely your point.

This is a root premise of Calvinism; I know it; I’ve lived it; and Calvinism is extremely relevant to this discussion because Calvinism is the most cohesive form of reformation philosophy, and at its root it is destructive and the greatest perpetrator of the abuse discussed on this blog.

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I will concede that  when I declared “human reason is the only reason”, that could have been confusing, given my argument. I apologize. When I say “human reason” in that sentence, I mean this: There is NO objective truth outside of man’s context, and thus there is no relevant objective truth (pertaining to his relationship with God, specifically here) that man cannot apprehend by the “ability to reason” God has given him to know and organize his world NOW. That is, there is no “reason”, or “truth”, or “rational doctrine” that can exist outside of man’s context; his universe, his environment. This is because EVERYTHING occurs, by definition, where man is (his universe). There is functionally NO frame of reference beyond that of man which can be anything but wholly irrelevant to him. It may very well be that there is “truth” (beyond which man can understand) “somewhere” else…but that truth is of no use to man, and never will be, since man is inexorably and wholly a function of his contextual reality; his universe. There may be something “before” the big bang, but as physicists rightly point out, it is irrelevant to OUR universe here. There is little use in “looking” for it because by definition it cannot be observed. It cannot be observed because it is not a part of THIS universe. If it cannot be observed because it is not a part of our universe then it cannot now, nor ever,be relevant. The same holds true for things we might “later” understand. If they are not a product of our frame of reference in THIS life, so that they can be apprehended NOW, then they will never become relevant or meaningful, even if and ESPECIALLY if they are a function of some OTHER frame of reference. This is my point.

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I think “observable” then, is merely stating what I think is pretty obvious: nothing (relevantly or rationally) exists except that which is a function of the universe. The implicit extension of this then would be: anything which has not yet been discovered but might be in the future is part of the observable universe, whether we actually observe it now or not.

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A general word of caution (from what I think you were saying at the end of your post…I apologize if I misinterpreted); I would not eschew the pursuit of truth because of a belief in a “transcendent” God. Logically, for man, the universe can be all there is. There can be no relevant reality outside of our universe. Declaring God transcendent and thus a mystery is fine; but we must understand that those transcendent properties and mysteries are for Him ALONE. They are for God, not for man. Thus, as far as man is concerned they are irrelevant “truths”. Practically speaking, they are not real…because they can never conform, by definition, to man’s frame of reference; man’s context, which is man’s universe. Anything at all falling outside of man’s universe can never apply to him…you cannot qualify that which cannot, by definition, actually be qualified because it does not functionally or efficaciously exist.

I would declare “existence” as a thing which cannot be qualified. Existence later in heaven, if you will, can only be an extension of existence NOW. Existence cannot both be existence and NON-existence at the same time. Meaning, there can be no gaps in existence. Strictly speaking, existence itself is a theoretical concept (as are spacetime, inerrancy, determinism, and so on) which, once qualified in ANY way (other than, in the case of spacetime, a mathematical grid/coordinate system so that a value other than infinity (which is 0) can be applied to objects in it), becomes a contradiction.

All that is to say that what is part of the observable, tangible universe is really the only reality there IS; anything else is theoretical. That being said, we must, I feel concede that there is real, actual TRUTH to be known, because all real truth must stem from what actually IS in the universe. Put simply, there are things that are true, and things that are false. They are knowable because they actually exist. It is only a matter of looking for them, not giving up, and not conceding that contradiction is actually the root of “truth”; which is, of course, impossible, both metaphysically and physically; scientifically and philosophically. Contradiction is nothing more than a fancy word for nonsense.

Incidentally, this is why I LIKE science as the ROOT of TRUE philosophy AND my faith in Christ; because science will tell you what cannot POSSIBLY be true in the real, knowable, observable universe (apart from metaphysical truth, rooted in logic, and based on the assumption that God is omnipotent). We are then obligated to extend that understanding to whatever THEORETICAL truths we have. I’m not saying we cannot hold that theories are in fact TRUE, but they can only be rooted in what actually IS; and what is, is the physical universe. Period.

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