Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Truth Claims and the Bible

When we say the Bible is the Word of God, we are making a truth claim. When we say the Bible is self-authenticating we are making a statement about the nature of its truth: it is the ultimate authority.

First, we need to point out that every aurgument for an ultimate authority has to be circular. Even the strictest evidentialist has to either use evidentialism to argue for the priority of evidence or he has to point to a higher syllogism that than evidence to support his evidentialism, at which point his epistemology breaks down.

Surprisingly Dawkins seems to make this sort of error in his letter to his 10 year old daughter. (Granted his is writing to a 10 year old). He ends:
Next time somebody tells you something that sounds important, think to yourself: "Is this the kind of thing that people probably know because of evidence? Or is it the kind of thing that people only believe because of tradition, authority, or revelation?" And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: "What kind of evidence is there for that?" And if they can't give you a good answer, I hope you'll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.

One simply has to ask: what kind of evidence do you have that for that? Can this statement actually be made according to the evidence. Without getting too deep one simple example: the statement: "murder is wrong" what evidence is there for that? You can show evidence that it is undesirable but you cannot actually prove that it is wrong.

Now not everyone follows Dawkins in their epistemology. It is very common in our day to read of 'postmoderns' who are skeptical of all truth claims. Indeed such truth claims are claims of authority and power. But then again, the claim that all truth claims are power grabs, is itself a power grab. You seek the right to grasp power by mandating what all truth claims must be. Who are you to say that all claims to true knowledge must be power plays? While we should develop this more, we might for now simple point out that Jesus who claimed to be the truth also claimed to come to serve. It was only through this humbling himself that he was exalted.

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"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...