Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Off to ISCA

Well, I am off to the International Society of Christian Apologetics annual meeting in Raleigh, NC. I'll be quite busy when I am there and I am greatly looking forward to the trip (even though it is a long drive). I am a student member of the ISCA and their website may be found here. The conference schedule, including speakers and topics, can be located here.

I will be presenting a paper in a breakout session entitled, "God's Moral Justification in Creating the Actual World," and despite what the title suggests it's more of a defense than a theodicy. Because of this there will be no posts here at Possible Worlds until Monday. At that time, I will post a summary and review of the meeting. I expect it to go well; there are several intriguing subjects and certain timeperiods contain multiple attractive options (which of course means I must choose). In any case, I would greatly appreciate your prayers. God bless!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RIP Logical Positivism

This is to announce formally the death of Logical Positivism. It was born circa 1920 to Hans Hahn and other European guys. The theory was used for some time to nullify belief in the supernatural. It passed away suddenly in the late 1970s when everyone realized it did not make sense.

Logical Positivism enjoyed a strong life; one might say it was the life of the philosophical party in the Western world. Its basic tenets included the idea that only statements that can be verified by the five senses are true. All other claims—specifically metaphysical, metaethical, and religious ones—were judged to be meaningless. “I remember one time LP and I were talking,” recalled associate A.J. Ayer. “I told him how he shouldn’t be saying such mean things about people. He reminded me it was pointless!” he laughed.

Most of Logical Positivism’s friends recalled him with a sort of fondness that made it seem as though he was not really gone. “He just made it so easy to ignore religion and morality. Those were the days. The days we didn’t have to do any thinking about such matters!” lamented one anonymous mourner.

Logical Positivism was a member of the American Philosophical Association. His influence was felt in the philosophy underlying every major discipline. Even religious scholars tended to bend under his forceful will. They tended to assert theirs was a discipline devoid of any philosophical meaning; this did more harm than good.

Police were summoned to the home of Logical Positivism when neighbors reported philosophers in the 1960s and 70s were pressuring him to leave. They found him dead where he sat. The official ruling by the coroner is death by self-defeat, also known as “philosophical suicide.” If this obituary has taught us anything, it is that life is short, and we do not have to self-defeat.

Logical Positivism is survived by his son Scientism (who, to this day, does not accept his father’s death. He also thinks Elvis and JFK live with Tupac on the moon.), who has become an influential person in pop culture and, of course, science; he is also survived by a close cousin by the name of Skepticism. Logical Positivism was preceded in death by Pure Empiricism and Pure Rationalism, his father and stepfather, respectfully. May he rest in peace.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Questions about Middle Knowledge

I have found while people have many questions about the teaching of middle knowledge, once explained it turns out to have been intuitively held by these same questioners. What I mean is that something very much like middle knowledge is believed to be true by the majority of Christians not already committed to some form of Calvinism or Arminianism. What is middle knowledge?

Certainly, it is not (directly) concerning predestination and free will (though it has application in that). Primarily, middle knowledge is related to omniscience. The simplest and most agreed-upon definition of omniscience is that “for any true proposition P, God knows and believes P and does not know nor believe not-P.” This means that whatever is true, be it in the future, now, or past, God knows it. Thus, quite literally, God knows what you are going to do before you do![1]

In order to understand middle knowledge in the context of omniscience, we finite beings break down God’s knowledge by logical relationship. First, there is God’s natural knowledge. This contains knowledge of all necessary truths (like “2+2=4” or “there are no married bachelors”) and all logical possibilities. Thus, one could say this is God’s knowledge of everything that could be. Next, there is God’s free knowledge. This is called “free” because the content of this knowledge is what God chose to be so. This includes God’s knowledge of this actual world (i.e. everything that is true in the history of the world up till now, and indeed throughout the potentially-infinite future).[2] One could say this is God’s knowledge of everything that will be. Finally, we have God’s middle knowledge. This is knowledge of a counterfactual form. This form is “if Gary were in circumstances C, Gary would freely do X.” One could say this is God’s knowledge of everything that would be in any other circumstances. In this way, God’s knowledge spans what could be, what will be, and what would be in every circumstance.

Middle knowledge is actually the conclusion of an argument from counterfactual knowledge. I have already explained the idea of counterfactual knowledge. Is it biblical? Absolutely! 1 Cor. 2:8 states, “Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” See the counterfactual? “If the princes of this world knew X, then they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”! Either what Paul is saying is true, false, or meaningless. Since it seems Paul really is conveying a truth by these words (and not a symbolic, deeper truth as in a parable), we can rule out meaningless. It also seems that Paul is teaching rather than relaying some other account, so that to say Paul was wrong is attacking the doctrine of inerrancy (not to mention we don’t have overriding reasons to think Paul was wrong). The only option left is to believe it is the truth. 1 Samuel 23:10-12 relay the story of David asking the Lord the counterfactual question, “If Saul comes down to Keilah, will they deliver me up?” The Lord answered in the affirmative. Since they did not deliver David up, this is a true counterfactual. Yet the Lord knew it! It seems the case for counterfactual knowledge, at least biblically, is quite solid. God knows what would happen in any other circumstance.

However, as some opponents have been quick to point out, counterfactual knowledge does not, in and of itself, mean middle knowledge. What would make it middle knowledge? Either counterfactual knowledge is known to God logically prior or logically posterior to the divine decree to create the world (or what we had called God’s “free” knowledge).[3] Essentially, counterfactuals here boil down to free choices of individuals. So then, either free will exists or God directly causes individuals to act. While much more could be written, it seems intuitive (for those not already committed to a position) and obvious, both biblically and experientially, that mankind has a free will. Just note if God causes individuals to act he causes them to sin.

So, if free creatures freely make choices, then it is not true that they act because God causes them to act. If that is the case, then counterfactual knowledge is known to God prior to the creative decree (logically). This is also very good, since if God does not force people to act and yet lacked counterfactual knowledge until the divine decree, then God would be completely lucky in getting this actual world. It gets worse: without this knowledge, God would have no idea how any of us would act in situations, including this actual one! God must, in order to create sovereignly and omnisciently, have counterfactual knowledge; specifically, he must have middle knowledge.

God’s knowing what any free creature would do in any set of circumstances is both biblically and intuitively held. If you ask most people on the street without using the relevant theological terms, “do you, as a Christian, think God knows what would have happened in any other set of circumstances?” they would say “yes.” If you asked them if they believe in free will, they would say “yes.” As we have seen, this just makes middle knowledge analytically true (that is, true in virtue of both of those prior question’s answers!). If you believe in counterfactual knowledge and free will, you believe in middle knowledge.


                [1] While for some the idea that future contingents can be true now is controversial, we shall proceed with the intuitive knowledge that what I will do tomorrow is true as a datum.

                [2] A discussion of why the future is potentially, rather than actually, infinite is an interesting one, but not one which ultimately matters. For our purposes, just know that God knows everything that will happen in this actual world.

                [3] Please note that the usage of “logically prior and posterior” does not in any way have to do with time, as though God lacked knowledge at any point.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Significance of the Resurrection

Many people do not understand the significance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Non-Christians just don’t see the relevance in celebrating some guy’s death; in fact, that seems positively morbid. In addition, Christians themselves sometimes do not see what the big deal is. After all, we still believe in God and the teachings of Jesus, so what does it matter?

The truth is that it matters a great deal. Paul said without the reality of the Resurrection, we are “of all men most miserable.” What made him say that? Is it really true?

First, the death of Christ is what pays the penalty for our sin.

God is love. This is undeniable for any orthodox conception of God. However, God is also just. He cannot be just at the expense of loving, and he cannot be loving at the expense of just. Since all of us have sinned against God (that is, all of us have done what is morally wrong at some point), we have offended him. An offense against a holy God must be punished. However, Jesus Christ, who is God, came as a man. He lived among us a perfect life, never sinning. He offered his life willingly. His death was the punishment upon him. As a man, he could be our representative (because he had never done anything wrong). Thus, his death paid the penalty for all of our sins.

Second, the Resurrection was God’s vindication on the message of Jesus.

Had Jesus never been Resurrected, one wonders just why we would believe he was any different than those other Messiahs. Sure, he had good things to say, and he taught as no man ever did. But in the end, he was killed just like anyone else. However, if he were to be raised from the dead, that would show God did indeed approve of his message; this in turn means Jesus was who he said he was (namely, God).

Third, the Resurrection is necessary for us to believe if we are to be saved.

Romans 10:9 states, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” One cannot be a Christian and not believe in the Resurrection (see other articles this week and on this blog relating to why one can trust the Resurrection as the most plausible hypothesis). If one does not believe the Resurrection, he is not really a Christian.

Finally, without the Resurrection Christians have no ultimate hope.

First, if the Resurrection did not happen, then the apostle’s witness of it is false (1 Cor. ). This alone should show that the faith that they started cannot be true. Second, Paul says that without the Resurrection, we are all still dead in our sins (). The reason? God has not vindicated Jesus and his claims. In that case, as alluded to above, we can only rely on Jesus’ life and teachings. But, if all we have is hope in this life, and not in the next, then we don’t really have any hope at all. We still have our sins held against us, and we have no hope of getting to God ().

Jesus Christ is the “firstfruits” of the Resurrection. Just as in Adam all of us have sin imputed, and thus death (cf. Romans ), so all can receive life through Christ. The Resurrection was necessary to show us this life! (1 Cor. 15:20-22). We can all have salvation through the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth! Remember that this Easter, and consider the claims of Jesus.
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All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Was Jesus Crucified on a Friday?

There is somewhat of a controversy as to which day the Lord Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. The traditional (and most popular) account states Jesus died on Friday at However, more recently some conservative and fundamental groups insist Jesus could not have died on Friday; he must have died on a Wednesday (or less commonly, on a Thursday). I believe the case for a Friday crucifixion is both reasonable and biblical, and insisting upon a Wednesday crucifixion is ill-advised.

First, a Wednesday crucifixion cannot yield any other result than a Saturday Resurrection.

There are two primary ways of reckoning days and nights: by either allowing for an evening and morning first (as in the pattern of Genesis 1) or by counting days first and then nights (as is common today). In counting as we do today, we would count 72 hours from Wednesday at ; this gets us a Saturday afternoon Resurrection. In the case of Jewish reckoning, this gets us a Saturday dawn Resurrection (Wednesday day, Thursday night, Thursday day, Friday night, Friday day, Saturday night [or dawn]). What’s the problem? Either solution is unbiblical.

It is clear from each Gospel account the Resurrection took place the first day of the week. Matthew 28:1a states, “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week.” Mark 16:1-2 say in part, “And when the Sabbath was past . . . very early in the morning the first day of the week.” Luke 24:1 says simply, “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning.” John 20:1 states, “The first day of the week . . . early, when it was yet dark.”

Second, there are problems with a Thursday crucifixion as well.

While the literal 72 hours would yield a Sunday afternoon Resurrection, the Jewish reckoning of nights and days are said to work by these proponents. In this case, however, they must claim there were back-to-back Sabbaths; the “special” Sabbath on Friday and the “regular” Sabbath on Saturday.[1] The problem is that there is just no hint in Scripture of there being two consecutive Sabbaths! In fact, in each narrative, it seems only one is in view. Further, the Jewish reckoning of days counts any part of one day as a full day; hence the Resurrection here occurs on the fourth day, not the third.[2] Therefore, a Thursday crucifixion contains just as many problems as a Wednesday, and lacks evidence.

Third, the Sabbath referred to in the narrative is a Saturday.

According to Luke , “they . . . rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” The term “the commandment” used by Luke indicates a familiarity from which only the 10 commandments can come. Within the Decalogue, one of the most important commandments observed in the day was the Sabbath (the 4th commandment). Hence, Luke almost takes it as a given. The commandment for the Sabbath was to rest on Saturday! John states the day of Jesus’ burial was the “preparation day.” This day of burial was the same day as Luke 23:56. Therefore, the preparation day on which Jesus was buried was Friday. Since Jesus was buried the same day he was crucified, he was therefore crucified on Friday.

Fourth, Jewish reckoning counts any part of a day as a full day.

This point alone dispels the one piece of biblical evidence people point to in their case against a Friday crucifixion. Matthew is the verse of which they are speaking. “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Since any part of a day counts towards the whole, however, we can see that a crucifixion on Friday counts as three whole days (which include nights as reckoned).

Is there biblical precedent for this? Of course! First, almost every other reference by Jesus to his own death and Resurrection simply uses the “the third day” phrase. Second, Matthew 27:63-64 reveal Jesus’ enemies asking for a guard “until the third day.”[3] Third, 1 Kings 12 relays a story wherein Rehoboam asks Jeroboam and company to leave for three days; yet they return to him “on the third day.” Rehoboam seemed to think their time obligation had been fulfilled, despite three complete, literal, 24-hour days not having passed. Finally, the point is even more powerfully demonstrated in Esther 4:16-5:1. Esther asks Mordecai to fast for three days and nights, and then she will go to the king. When she does go to the king, it is on the third day, despite not having completed a full three days and three nights. Was she wrong? Hardly.

In the same way, Jesus can use the terminology “three days and three nights,” be crucified on Friday, be in the tomb until Sunday morning at dawn, and it still be correct. His burial took place just before sundown on Friday. Hence, Jesus was buried Friday during the day. He stayed in the tomb Saturday night and Saturday during the day. Sunday night commenced at sundown on the Sabbath, and Jesus remained in the tomb until roughly before dawn, or the beginning of the day. Since any parts of days are counted as full days, it simply is irrelevant that Jesus was not in the tomb for 72 hours.

Friday is the best candidate, both biblically and culturally, for the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.


                [1] < http://biblelight.net/pasover.htm >, accessed April 21, 2011.

                [2] Ibid.

                [3] Additionally, since the leaders asked for a guard and Pilate seemed to respond in an affirmative manner (after all, he told them to “make it sure,” which he would not have likely done had he been refusing their request), it seems the guard was likely Roman after all.

All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unlikely Story of the Women

Critics of the Gospel’s Resurrection accounts often allege the story of Mary Magdalene and the “other Mary” visiting the tomb of Jesus contains contradictory details. For instance, Matthew 28:8 states “And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.” Contrast this with Mark 16:8, which says, “And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.”

It seems we have a contradiction on our hands! Not so fast. There are at least two plausible suggestions for a resolution.

1. Mark’s account coupled with Matthew’s indicates that the women told no one else along the way.

There is no reason to suspect these faithful followers of Jesus would not have done as they were instructed (and both passages agree they were instructed to tell the disciples). Further, Matthew’s account states they were leaving to tell the disciples. In this case, the plausible situation would be as follows: the women see the angel, the angel tells them Christ has risen, the angel instructs them to tell the disciples, the women fear and leave to go tell the disciples, not telling anyone along the way because they were afraid. Given both accounts this is certainly plausible.

2. The women indeed left fearing and intending not to tell anyone; but Jesus’ appearance to them convinced them otherwise.

This harmonization takes Mark’s account at face value and assumes that they left not intending to tell anyone including the disciples or Peter. While this would be assuming the worst about a group of followers so full of faith they came to anoint the body of Jesus (indeed, how did they think they would get past the guards, or roll the stone away?), this hypothetical still works. In Matthew 28:9-10, Christ appears to them on the way and tells them to instruct the disciples to meet him in Galilee. It is important to know the writing styles of Matthew and Mark. Mark wrote many stories in the present tense (e.g. “he comes to Jesus,” or “he heals him of leprosy”) while Matthew did not bother with chronology all that often (in 27:53, for example, Matthew interrupts the story of Jesus’ death with the later consequence of people rising from the dead after the Resurrection [which chronologically has not taken place yet in Matthew’s story]).

In this harmonization, Matthew is writing with the ultimate destination of the women in mind: they would eventually tell the disciples, and it was on this journey, so he writes in 28:8-9 they were on their way to the disciples. Mark writes in the present tense, and so relays their intent to get out of there and lie low. In between the two extremes is Jesus himself, who appears to them and (quite notably) tells them to “be not afraid.” (Matt. 28:10)

I personally favor this view, but for theological reasons. It seems all of the Resurrection appearances of Jesus were on his terms. Thomas doubted, the disciples had returned to fishing, and the women were afraid. In each and every case it was Jesus himself who overcame their doubts and fears. It is the changed lives of every person whom the Resurrected Lord encounters that must be dealt with by the skeptic. How has Christ changed your life? Is there a change? Tell your story, skeptical or not, below!
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All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Crowd

I have heard some pastors and speakers remark in bewilderment that the same people who hailed Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday were prepared to crucify him one week later. They then tend to shrug off this seemingly-confusing event and attribute it to prophecy. But God tends to work through people rather than force them to do certain things.

In our last article we looked at Barabbas and Jesus, and just why any group of people would prefer a murderer to a miracle-worker. The passages can be found first in Mark 11:1-11. I will quote verses 9-10 here: “And they that went before [Jesus], and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”

Contrast this scene of accepting the king of kings with the scene before Pilate in Matthew 27:15-25. “The governor [Pilate] answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas . . . . They all say unto him, Let him be crucified . . . . Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” (vs. 21, 23b, 25)

How could the crowd have turned on Jesus so fast? The answer is quite similar to the answer in yesterday’s post. The crowd that made up the celebration in Mark 11 was assuredly different than the one in Matthew 27. First, nowhere does the biblical record state or even indicate the same group of people was involved. Second, while certain of Jesus’ followers (such as most of the disciples or even Peter) were scared and fled (or even denied him outright!), none of them would have openly called for his death; even Judas seemed surprised that Jesus was actually condemned (cf. Matt. 27:3-5). Finally, during Passover week there was a huge influx of out-of-town Jews, seeking to offer a sacrificial lamb at the Temple. There is no way of knowing exact numbers, but Jerusalem may have easily doubled its Jewish population. In that case not only would the makeup of the marketplace and “downtown” crowd be potentially completely different, but many of them may have heard little or none of Jesus of Nazareth at all. So when, on the week of Passover no less, they heard of a rebellious Jew claiming to be God and speaking blasphemies they would have not been hesitant to call for his death. Surely, they were doing God a service. Weren’t they?

Rescue (http://www.rescuemusic.org) has a great song from one of their first albums called “2000 Years Ago.” Part of the lyrics are as follows:
           
            And now when I look at that time
            I can scarcely imagine the degree of the crime.
            I’d like to think myself a disciple crying out loud
            But I know from my own life, I’d be in the crowd.

Easter is a time of reflection and celebration. This year, take extra care to be thankful for the sacrifice Christ made for you!
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All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Barabbas and Jesus

Each day this week there will be a short-to-medium length post dealing with some aspect of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Today we will be looking at the character of Barabbas.

Not much is known of him, though all four Gospels attest to this story within the narrative. In Mark 15:6-7 we are told, “Now at that feast he [Pilate] released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.”

It is interesting to note that Barabbas’ name essentially just means “son” (bar) and “abba” (father), which would have been a common Semitic surname. Additionally, Mark’s usage of the definite article indicates he expected or assumed his readers would know precisely the insurrection to which he was referring.[1] However, why would the people prefer a murderer and a thief (cf. John ) to a man who worked miracles?

Of course, most of my readers are already familiar with the story: each year at Passover, Pilate (who wanted to appease the insurrection-happy Jewish subjects in the area) released to the people a prisoner (also presumably Jewish). Pilate evidently was counting on the people asking to release Jesus; hence he could claim he tried all he could, but the people wanted Jesus (and surely they would want him over Barabbas!). As it turns out, the chief priests were sure to convince the others in the group that Barabbas should be released ().

I have two plausible suggestions for why people would prefer Barabbas to Jesus (indeed, it is highly plausible that there is a measure of truth to both explanations). First, Barabbas committed murder in an insurrection. An insurrection was an uprising against the Roman government by a Jewish contingent. They viewed themselves as freedom fighters or displacement services for an oppressive regime. For many Jews and simply on the face of it, Barabbas may have easily been viewed as somewhat of a hero, especially to those who were unfamiliar with him (possibly due to the large swelling of Jerusalem to accommodate those Jews from outside of the area for Passover [since every good Jew traveled to the Temple to offer a lamb]). This leads to the second explanation.

Since there were so many Jews from out of town it is quite possible many of them present had never heard of Jesus or were relatively unfamiliar with him. It is also likely there were only a fraction of the Jews present in the city within the multitude. In these cases, the chief priests would have had little trouble in framing the issue: “here we have a man who claims to be God! He is a blasphemer and thus worthy of death! Would you go against the priests of God and God himself?!” This kind of intimidation and explanation easily accounts for the people choosing Barabbas over Jesus. They probably either viewed it as the lesser of two evils, or perhaps even more perversely, as a hero being set free while a blasphemer gets what he deserves.

In Matthew 27:25 (a parallel passage), the people present cry out, “His blood be on us, and on our children!” This is in reference to Deuteronomy 19:1-10, where a man who was “not worthy of death” is killed, the ones who allow it bear the blood (or the guilt) of the act. Essentially, these people were so convinced of Jesus’ guilt they were saying “if he is innocent, hold us responsible.” Jesus was indeed innocent; his death and Resurrection provided the payment for sins and the promise of the fulfillment of future salvation. Praise God!


                [1] William Lane Craig, “Question #169,” http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8256, accessed April 18, 2011.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Empty Tomb Revisited

From time to time people ask, "what is the central truth of Christianity?" Is it God is love? Is it love thy neighbor? In reality, the most important and central truth of the Bible is that God raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 15:19). Among the so-called "minimal facts" case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the empty tomb is by far the most perplexing for skeptics and the most wonderful for believers. It seems there are good reasons to hold that Jesus' tomb was found empty by a group of his female followers on the Sunday morning after the crucifixion. More than that, it seems virtually compelling. Let's revisit some of the important facts surrounding this "empty tomb."

1. After his crucifixion, Jesus of Nazareth was buried in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb (Matt. 27:57-60; Mark 15:43-46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-42).

Joseph of Arimathea was one of the bad guys. Being part of the Sanhedrin, no early Christian legend would have ever wanted to portray a Pharisee as a good guy! Jesus' burial is testified to in an early tradition itself. 1 Cor. 15:3-5 includes the very early tradition, repeated by Paul, that Jesus was crucified and buried. Note the words "delivered" and ":received." This indicates it dates back to before Paul's conversion (which was less than five years after Christ's death). If Jesus had not been buried in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb, we surely would have heard an alternative story within that timeframe!

2. Note the people who discovered Jesus' tomb empty: a group of his female followers.

In this society, women were not even allowed to function as reliable witnesses in court! Jewish men would hardly have invented a story in which they were not the original finders of the empty tomb. Such an embarrassing detail makes it very probable, historically speaking, that this indeed happened. Hence, there was an empty tomb after all.

3. 1 Cor. 15:3-5 presupposes the empty tomb.

In this particular portion of Scripture, Paul is offering an early tradition he had received as a polemic. It must be pointed out Paul said he received the Gospel itself from Jesus Christ, then spent three years in Arabia/Damascus, and then went to "see" Peter in Jerusalem (1:18-19). This word is only used once, and is the Greek word ιστορησαι. This word means to "investigate" literally. What he was investigating is the apostles' claims themselves (cf. 1:19-2:2) There's no reason to suppose Paul is contradicting himself here. Habermas points out "Paul was so careful to assure the content of his Gospel message, that he made a second trip to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-10) specifically to be absolutely sure that he had not been mistaken (2:2)." (Dialog: Experiences of the Risen Jesus)

Further, Paul uses παρεδωκα and παρελαβον, which are "formulaic" words used in the practice of introducing sayings ("delivered" and "received"). Next, the proper name of "Cephas" is used, instead of the predominantly used "Peter" by even the time of Paul's writing (to say nothing of later interpolation). The three-fold και οτι, or "and that," seems to be an oral tradition. This is why Habermas mentions even skeptics affirm a date in the 30s.

4. Next, the Jewish anti-Christian polemic presupposes the empty tomb.

Now, at first, some people may be surprised by this. But think about it: If Jesus' tomb was not empty (and hence occupied, presumably, by Jesus), why say "the disciples stole the body?" in response to the Christian claim he had risen? Why not just say "he's over here!"?

In Matthew 27:62-66 and 28:11-15, the chief priests expected the disciples to steal the body, and bribed the guards to say so. Now let's assume the story is embellished in Matthew. All that makes sense to make up is the guard story in response to the charge the disciples had stolen the body. There's no need to mention bribing of the guard. Craig mentions, "This arises only when the Jewish polemic answers that the guard had fallen asleep, thus allowing the disciples to steal the body. The sleeping of the guard could only have been a Jewish development, as it would serve no purpose to the Christian polemic." ("The Guard at the Tomb," New Testament Studies, 30)

Indeed, if the entire "guard polemic" (or any part) were a lie they would need only point that out! Craig:"it is even more improbable that confronted with this palpable lie, the Jews would...proceed to create another lie, even stupider, that the guard had fallen asleep while the disciples broke into the tomb and absconded with the body. If the existence of the guard were false, then the Jewish polemic would never have taken the course that it did...It would never have come to the point that the Christians had to invent a third lie, that the Jews had bribed the fictional guard...Rather the real value of Matthew's story is the incidental...information that Jewish polemic never denied that the tomb was empty, but instead tried to explain it away. Thus the early opponents of the Christians themselves bear witness to the fact of the empty tomb." (ibid)

There is a strong case for the empty tomb. This Easter, Christians should be grateful both for the fact of the empty tomb itself, bearing witness to the fact God raised Jesus from the dead for our sins (and not ours only, but that of the whole world), but also that there are compelling reasons to believe this. Skeptics should take another look at the evidence, and take another look at their hearts. Have you ever done anything morally wrong? If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for these moral wrongs (that we call "sin"), believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, and want redemption from your sins, you can have it. All you have to do is ask.
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All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Much Evil?

This article will discuss the amount of evil and suffering in the world as it relates to the ultimate playing-out of events, or the complete description of this possible world. While much could be written I chose to focus on the amount of suffering in light of character development.

Because each and every member of mankind is a sinner in need of redemption, evil exists (Romans , ). Most people intuitively believe this and will not deny it; when pressed, most will even admit they have committed a moral imperfection themselves. Because evil exists mankind must be saved. Jesus Christ provided this benefit as available to all men, and God’s “goal” as it were is to see every member of mankind accept Jesus’ sacrifice and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Of course, this will not happen. This accounts for the perseverance and scope of personal acts of evil done by the free will of man.

When coupled with natural evil (or essentially pain) we naturally wonder why God does not permit less of it (or even any of it!). As famously said by C.S. Lewis, “God…shouts to us in our pain.” Experiencing pain and evil is often character-forming. There are painful experiences in my life that helped shape me into the person I am today. While I cannot be sure, I quite readily imagine I would not have learned the lessons I did without those same painful experiences.

But couldn’t I have learned the lessons with a little less pain than I in fact did? If not me, then couldn’t someone else who has experienced a significant amount of pain have their character formed with less evil? There are a few problems with this. First, we have no way of knowing the counterfactual truths involved. William Lane Craig pointed out that even in the instance of a stubbed toe, we simply aren’t in a good epistemic position to say this evil is ultimately pointless (perhaps it is combined with other events that day which bring about an ultimate good, even if years off, which justifies that evil).

Lewis asserts, “suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God.”[1] Geisler adds, “based on the fact that God is both all-good and all-knowing: It [pain and suffering] won’t be too long, and it won’t be too much.”[2]

I am reminded of an article about rules in sports I read recently. One comment that struck me as profound was the distance in baseball between first and second base: 90 feet. If it was 89 feet, the author asserted, there would be too many Rickey Henderson’s (for stolen bases). If it was 91 feet, there would be too few. How much was the distance in baseball between the bases? Just enough to accomplish the right amount of bases stolen. How much evil is permitted by God in this actual world? Just enough so that people have a way of responding to God and being rightly related to him. Just enough to form our character.


                [1] C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Macmillan, 1944), 110.

                [2] Norman L. Geisler, If God, Why Evil? (Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House, 2011), 92.

All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The "Is-Ought" Problem and God's Morality

The “is-ought” fallacy dates at least back to David Hume. The idea is that one may not describe how something is and then conclude this is what one ought to do in terms of morality. In the recent Craig-Harris debate, during the Q&A portion, a young man asked Craig how he was not committing the is-ought fallacy by saying “because God exists, we ought to do this or that.”

The question does need to be addressed: does the Christian or one who believes in objective moral values commit the is-ought fallacy? I think the answer is “no.” First, consider the nature of the fallacy. It is primarily a problem for naturalism, not a theistic view.[1] The idea is that one cannot take a statement of fact itself to be a prescription for moral activity. One cannot say, “it is true I don’t like to be struck; therefore, you ought not to strike me.” This was precisely Hume’s point.

Second, the objection assumes that one derives the “ought” of moral obligation from the “is” of God’s mere existence. This is simply not what the theist does when defending objective moral values. Craig says,
           
            Suppose that God never created a concrete world at all. . .so that there were no created            moral agents. In that case, God would not issue any commands, and so there would be no moral obligations or prohibitions of any sort. I suspect the questioner was confusing moral values with moral duties (these are not the same: it would be good for you to become a doctor, but you’re not morally obligated to become a doctor). The former are grounded in God Himself, the latter in God’s commands.[2]

So it is not the case that God’s commands are rooted in his mere existence.[3] Under the comments section on the Craig-Harris debate here at Possible Worlds, I alluded to this. We’re not saying, “God’s nature is good, therefore one ought to behave a certain way,” but rather “God’s nature is good, therefore what he commands we ought to obey.” This distinction between objective moral values and moral duties is critical.

Finally, the objection fails to take into account definitional scenarios. For instance, it is helpful to recognize it is not the “is-ought” fallacy to say, “Because X is a moral obligation, one ought to do it.” The reason is because this is simply what it means to have an obligation! If one wants to be aligned with moral obligations in her life, then she ought to perform these obligations. God’s nature grounds objective moral values, and his commands will always be in alignment with his nature. By this definition, then, she has an obligation to perform whatever commands are binding upon her in order to be in a right standing with morality! In summary, it seems God’s grounding of objective morality is not an instance of the “is-ought” fallacy after all.


                [1] William Lane Craig, “Question 208,” <http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer?pagename=q_and_a>, accessed April 11, 2011.

                [2] Ibid.

                [3] It’s also worth discussing it seems that atheists may want to do away with the fallacy altogether. For instance, Harris alluded to “health” to be a counterexample of how we may say, “Bill has such-and-such disease, and we can say he ought to do such-and-such to get rid of the disease.” The problem is the “ought” is in accordance with a proposed standard independent of the fact of Bill’s having the disease.

All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review of Craig vs. Harris Debate

The William Lane Craig-Sam Harris debate promised to be a better affair than last week’s Craig-Krauss debate, and it did not disappoint. It is my contention Harris, overall, did little better than Krauss.

The debate format was as follows: each speaker, beginning with Craig, had a 20-minute opening speech, followed by 12-minute rebuttals, eight-minute rebuttals, and five-minute closing arguments. The topic was: “Is God the Foundation of Good?” or “Is supernaturalism or naturalism the foundation of Good?”

As expected, Craig trotted out the moral argument behind the usual premises, with slightly different emphases. Craig made two contentions: 1. If God exists we have a sound foundation for objective moral values and duties, and 2. If God does not exist we do not have a sound foundation for these. Craig pointed out Harris was actually in complete agreement as to the existence of objective moral values. He also pointed out that God’s existence or non-existence is irrelevant to the debate. That is, positing God’s nonexistence is wholly compatible with belief in both of Dr. Craig’s contentions.

In support of (1), Craig brings in “perfect being theology.” If God is the perfect being, then it follows he is also morally perfect, so that his nature is the locus or grounds of that which is good. This accounts for moral values. To account for duties, Craig mentions these are derived from values rooted in God’s nature in the form of commands, or Divine Command Theory.

In defense of (2), Craig questioned the worth of humans, both collectively and individually. He mentioned the usual line about atheism’s being true means morality is really just a behavioral byproduct of evolution and not at all obligatory. Craig aptly pointed out that saying one ought to do something in order to achieve human well-being doesn’t answer, in a non-question-begging way, how this well-being grounds morality. It’s like saying “If you want to be good at growing corn, do such-and-such.” He also mentioned the “is-ought” fallacy, along with the ought-implies-can problem of naturalistic objective ethics. The best line of the night, in my opinion, was when Craig mentioned those who act immorally are doing nothing more than acting unfashionably; “The moral equivalent of Lady Gaga!”

Harris’ opening speech brought with it a concession of objective moral values’ being a societal construct. Harris mentioned these values are known through a common-sense epistemology. While Craig would likely agree (and did) that moral values are known in a variety of ways, I really wish they would have entered into the problems of such well-being utilitarianism (which Harris even mentions in the Q & A portion). For instance, if saving the life of Jim by jumping on a bomb is something you might do, yet you hold to this theory of maximizing well-being, what should you do? Suppose the world might be robbed of some great good (like an unborn descendant of yours who cures cancer) upon your death, but Jim’s death is relatively irrelevant. Or suppose the reverse. Which one is right? The problem is that if ultimate maximal well-being of human society is the objective standard, then not only is one action over another preferable, but obligatory. If you want to act in accordance with your moral “ought,” then you ought to do whichever of these is better. But you have no idea! Any extra moral standard is an arbitrary fiat: if you don’t know, save his life. But in that case you may save the life of a monster and so bring about lower well-being than before. That you didn’t know doesn’t absolve you of committing a moral evil. We may say you should not be punished (if you survive), but nevertheless you have done wrong.[1]

Harris came off as accommodating, even friendly, in this first speech. He conducted a thought experiment whereby he says to imagine the worst possible world of suffering and pain, and asked if we have an obligation to relieve some of it. If yes, he contends, then human well-being is at the heart of the matter. It is here Harris gives his only real argument for his position, namely:

1. Moral values and obligations are mind-dependent in their grounding.
2. Minds are nature-dependent.
3. Therefore, moral values are nature-dependent.

Neither Craig nor Harris ever address this argument directly again. Craig does go on to point out free will and how no moral obligation can be placed on one who does not have this will, thus indirectly addressing the second premise. Harris provided no account for why we should believe minds are naturally-dependent, and while I believe a mind is necessary for moral truths and facts, it doesn’t at all follow that because minds exist, moral values exist. The problems raised with respect to what Craig said seem to surmount this. But there is a further problem. The way Harris framed this was in terms of necessity. If humans did not exist and the moral platonic realm is rejected by Harris, then there is both a possible world and an actual time in the actual world where moral values do not exist, even though they are posited as necessary!

In Craig’s rebuttal, he pointed out Harris had confused moral epistemology with moral semantics; Craig was not claiming if religion is false, “good” has no meaning. He illustrated this point with the concept of “light.” People knew how to speak about light and what it does (semantics) long before they understood what it really was (ontology). In the same way, people can know the good even if they do not know the ontological foundation of that good. Craig again pointed out the issue of God’s existence is a red herring with respect to Craig’s two contentions.

In response to Harris’ argument about “worst possible suffering,” he asked what makes human well-being good? This is precisely the question under debate, and Harris takes it as axiomatic. However, Craig pointed out Harris’ usage of “bad” throughout the opening speech is really non-moral. For example, when one says “you’ve made a bad move in chess,” no one takes it to also mean you’ve done something evil. He went on to give several examples of non-moral good: “the sun feels good, I’m good at basketball, that’s a good way to kill yourself, etc.”

Craig’s most powerful critique of Harris’ view that the property of being good is identical to the property of well-being is this: if rapists get well-being from inflicting pain, then there is a possible world in which the continuum of well-being is not an objectively moral landscape, and the peaks or high points of well-being could be occupied by people we call evil. But in the actual world then these are not identical; identity is a necessary relation. Since the law of identity says no entity or property is the opposite of itself in any possible world, if there is a possible world in which the rapist (who does what is evil even on Harris’ view) receives well-being, then there is a world in which well-being is not identical to good. In this case, then it is actually true (on pain of a violation of the law of identity) that the good is not identical to well-being in this actual world either.

Harris’ rebuttal was a strange, 12-minute diatribe where he offered literally zero arguments for his position. I do not mean he offered zero arguments which I found compelling or good. Just zero arguments altogether. He spent the time presenting the problem of evil and criticizing Christian particularism, both of which were irrelevant to the debate. Harris started to look angry during this portion of the debate. He also seemed to have given up the actual debate topic from here on out.

Craig pointed out that not only were no arguments offered for the naturalistic hypothesis, but that no criticisms of any of his arguments were offered as well! Craig did refer the audience to look into the critiques of Harris through Paul Copan’s book, Is God a Moral Monster?. Craig contended the point of Christianity was not eternal well-being, as Harris alleged earlier. Rather, the point is to worship God on account of who he is! Harris had mentioned in his diatribe that Christians are lunatics, and Craig dismissed this as “stupid and insulting.” I don’t know that I would have said it was “stupid,” but Craig did not come off very mean-spirited (but rather annoyed).

In Harris’ second rebuttal, he accused Craig of misrepresenting him, but did not offer any explanation. Harris defaulted to claiming that if you grant him certain axioms, then his account of morality is true, in much the same way as logic or math. The problem is that people generally don’t view morality to be transcendently true based on “nothing;” further note what this is asking the audience to do: just take his word for it. Take it on faith. He relies on objective morality’s being true, but then his argument just begs the question!

In Craig’s closing, he pointed out that none of his arguments had been addressed throughout the entire debate (which is truly astounding). He also mentioned that taking objective morality on faith doesn’t get us atheistic objective grounding of morality, it just gets us morality itself! We literally have no reason to believe naturalism can account for morality’s being objective.

In Harris’ closing, he again attacks Christian particularism. He states that Craig’s arguments could be given to any God. At this point, however, he’s virtually conceded the topic (and by extension, that a morally good God exists); he’s just demanding to know which one. Both Krauss and now Harris seemingly admit to deistic views in implication; it’s just the Christian God they don’t like (along with others, no doubt).

The Q&A was not particularly interesting except for one gentleman who claimed God had appeared to him and told him homosexuality was OK. It was obviously a non-serious (and irrelevant) issue to see what Dr. Craig would say, and he wouldn’t have any of it, thankfully.

In summary, while there were times Harris scored rhetorical points (i.e., one-liners against God), these weren’t arguments. The arguments he did make were unfortunately completely irrelevant to the topic. Craig’s arguments were clearly better, and I suspect many clear-headed atheists would agree that on some kind of theism, morality may be grounded, and without theism, there’s no reason to think morality really is objective.


                [1] There’s also the issue of the well-known “utility monster,” or even a race of such monsters. The idea is that there is a race in the galaxy of super-beings whose well-being is inextricably linked to destroying other races and causing them pain and suffering. Now suppose there are more of these beings than all other beings in the galaxy combined. On an account of ultimate well-being, not only is human suffering and misery at these monster’s hands permissible, but it is also obligatory. It is no escape to claim humans have a special place in objective morality in this case; that’s purely arbitrary (and supports subjectivism more than anything else).

All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.

A Molinist Solution to the Problem of Prayer

I normally don’t post a whole lot about Molinism (this is just the third out of 42 posts to do so), but I feel the idea has great applications and scope to problems in theology. One of the so-called problems mentioned from time to time is the problem of prayer.

The simple fact is that we are commanded, biblically, to pray. Philippians 4:6 instructs, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” In addition, Paul goes on in another letter to say, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians ). Jesus assumed prayer would take place by his followers when he instructed his disciples as to the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9. Clearly, prayer is to be a normative part of the Christian experience.

There are some apparently troubling problems with prayer, however. First, there is the problem of God’s sovereignty and immutable plan. Since most people believe God is sovereign and he has had a plan even “before” the creation of the world and time, how is it prayer makes any difference? Had one prayed another way, the logic goes, it wouldn’t have mattered: God would still have done what he wanted to do.

Another problem is the problem of “post-action prayers.” It’s a quick prayer we all say when we hear of something occurring. “James just got in a horrible car accident,” you hear. Instantly, you pray a silent prayer begging God he is alive. If James were killed on impact, however, your prayer would come too late. That is to say, whatever has happened in terms of injuries and/or damage to the car has already happened, so why pray?

Molinism is the basic teaching that God holds counterfactual knowledge of what any free creature would choose to do in any fully-specified set of circumstances. A proffered answer from some quarters to the first problem is that God simply looks ahead to what you will do and if the request of your prayer is in his plan, he will grant it. A Molinist solution could say God doesn’t just have simple foreknowledge but exhaustive knowledge of all possible choices and what every free creature would do. In this way, God could meticulously plan every detail, including truths and details of how he himself would act in any situation, so that he knows, and plans completely in eternity, “In circumstances C Jim will pray for X, and in circumstances C where Jim prays for X, God will answer that prayer affirmatively.” It may well be in such a scenario that a true counterfactual for God would be that “were Jim to be in circumstances C and not pray for X, God would not act in the same way as an affirmative answer to the former prayer.” In other words, prayer makes a difference to how God would act in varying circumstances (something simple foreknowledge can only scratch the surface of, in my view).[1]

The answer to the second problem lies also in counterfactual knowledge. Without this knowledge, it would seem quite silly indeed to pray for something that already took place. You suddenly remember your brother had a job interview an hour earlier, and pray hastily “Lord, please, I pray it went well.” But what has happened has happened. Do we expect God to turn back time and change the event? Not really. But suppose that God knew in the exact circumstances you were in you would forget to pray until the interview was over; but you would indeed pray. In that case, God may choose on the basis of his counterfactual middle knowledge to grant the request of your prayer, even in the case that the answer comes before the request![2]

While this may strike some as very interesting, others may have already embraced a similar view. This goes to show that I believe Christians generally hold to the basic principle of Molinism (that is, God knows what every free creature would do in any set of circumstances) intuitively; it offers a solution for prayer which holds God-given freedom and God’s freedom and power itself.


                [1] Want biblical evidence? Try Genesis 18:16-33. Abraham implored the Lord several times, almost like a Middle-Eastern haggler, to get a “bargain” for the prayer to save the lives of the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah. That there were not ten righteous is irrelevant to these purposes; it’s enough to show that each individual counterfactual was true in accordance with the request of Abraham (50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10).

                [2] I was exposed to this solution by William Lane Craig’s work, though I cannot remember (nor find) the citation.

All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Argument for Intuition

I have been thinking quite a bit about intuition from a defensive perspective; that is, attacking views which would negate intuition. But an acquaintance recently suggested there needs to be more in the way of a positive argument for intuitive knowledge.

This argument should be held tentatively but I think it should spark some interest. What is intuition? Typically, philosophers hold that an intuitive belief is one held by perception independently of any process. Natural empiricists, naturally (pun intended), cannot hold to this type of knowledge (also called a priori) since the only knowledge considered to be valid is that gained from observation of the natural world. However, it seems we can hold beliefs independently of any reasoning process or perception that are actually true. If this is the case, intuitive belief is justified. One such argument would look like this:

1. If we can hold justified true beliefs independently of any process or perception, then we have intuitive knowledge.

2. We can hold justified true beliefs independently of any process or perception.

3. Therefore, we have intuitive knowledge.

The second premise isn’t a good one, since the first premise is just a definition of intuitive knowledge. In short, there’s not a really good reason for accepting (2) unless we already accept it or create an entirely new argument for accepting it. Perhaps a different argument would be helpful here.

4. The laws of logic are justified upon their examination (application of empiricism).

5. Inference is an application of the laws of logic.

6. Inference must be used upon application of empiricism.

7. If (4-6), the laws of logic must be justifiably known.

8. If (4-7), the justification is known logically prior to empiricism.

9. If (4-8), then (2) is true.

10. If (2) is true, then (3) is true, and hence we have intuitive knowledge.

As already discussed (1) is true by definition. (4) is also definitional under an intuition-less empiricism (or even an empiricism which includes some intuition, for that matter). (5) may be controversial for the empiricist, but it really should not be. Anytime a conclusion is drawn, even tentatively, about anything in empiricism, a rational inference is made. Otherwise we would not even be sure the law of gravity was a law! We would marvel at how it drops over and over, but we would never make the inference that if we would release the object the next time that it would drop, much less come up with the law of gravity! Of course, I have mixed the justification for (6) in along with (5) since they are so closely related. If you accept one you accept the other.

(7) is just analytically true and simply says we justifiably know the laws of logic to be true on either method, which makes it a certainty that these laws are justifiably known. (8) may also seem at first blush to be controversial, but it is logically required. Since empiricism requires the laws of logic in order to make inference, and since (5) tells us laws of logic can be empirically verified, it follows necessarily that such laws are known prior to their empirical, or a fortiori, discovery.

(9) may be objected to on the basis that having knowledge prior to its empirical justification or drawing of inference from observation of the world is not intuitive knowledge. But in that case they’ll have to deny (1). A denial of the first premise as a material conditional necessitates the objector believes holding justified, true beliefs independently of any process or perception is not intuitive knowledge.[1] In that case, the objector owes us an account of what intuitive knowledge is! If (9) is true, then (2) and (10) are, and in that case we do have intuitive knowledge after all!

What does it matter? First, intuition is vitally important to understanding some metaphysical truths. For instance, how did mankind know moral obligations, if they are indeed objective, before the Bible (or for atheists or non-Christians, how did we know these obligations without such?)? It seems such knowledge is just built in. It’s why we just know stealing is wrong. While fellow Christians will point to the Bible for moral prescriptions, I think we would all agree that we Christians, even without the Bible, would likely view murder as wrong in all circumstances. Second, these metaphysical truths help form a basis for accepting certain premises in theistic argument. Now, one can object to the argument for intuition above, but only by denying one of the premises. I think intuitive knowledge is justified and we indeed cannot live without it. Please let me know what you think below!


                [1] To be thorough and robust, it should be noted that “perception” really means “perception external to intuition itself,” lest anyone think the very definition is self-refuting.

All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.