About two weeks ago, the following comment was posted on the thread “The Aura of Infallibility” by one of the Christians whom I originally quoted in that post.
There were some other discussions going on at the time and it fell off the recent comments list before it could attract any replies, and I thought it deserved some. So, I’m promoting it to its own thread. I’ll write my own response to it (and I’ll contact Matt to let him know about this post) – but readers, what say you?
I am the Matt discussed in the original article. I found this to be quite interesting, as it was an approach to the theistic approach to epistemology that I hadn’t heard, at least not put quite that way. The specious argument that I am making a claim to infallibility myself when I claim to believe in the Bible’s infallibility is really quite stunning when I think about it. The only logical conclusion of such a claim, and the resultant claim that “all knowledge must be provisional” is that none of you know anything at all, in which case why take such an arrogant absolutist tone with those with whom you disagree?
Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, “…I came into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate’s response is, “What is truth?” This exchange reveals perfectly the two different epistemological approaches here. You said all truth must be provisional. But that means that there is no truth, or at least no way for us to ever know that truth. And if so, then there is no right and wrong, no such thing as evil. There is only what works for me as an individual.
And yet you all know full well that that isn’t true. You know full well that there are things that are evil, regardless of evolutionary processes or survival needs. You demonstrate that over and over in this thread. You act as absolutist as any Pharisee ever did, insulting the intelligence of those who disagree with you, even casting aspersions on our moral character, describing our perspective as “scary” and the like, in direct contradiction to your insistence that all knowledge must be provisional (which sounds like a pretty absolutist statement itself).
Science is not the only source of knowledge. It’s not even the most important one. Within its proper role, science is wonderful, a gift from God to be used to understand His beautiful creation. But each of you have souls, whether you acknowledge that or not, and the image of God within you which teaches you right and wrong, is far more important than science. A good but scientifically illiterate man is a far better man than a scientifically knowledgeable but cruel and deceptive man.
I do not claim infallibility. My views on many subjects have changed. Your arguments on this point are circular. If there is truly a God, and He truly revealed Himself to mankind infallibly, then He can do so in a way which is compelling, and it is no claim of infallibility on my part to say that I have recognized His infallible revelation and submit to it. You say that I am wrong about many things. Why is it somehow different when I say that you are wrong about many things?
Pilate’s statement, “What is truth?” was immediately followed by his order for the crucifixion of a man he himself knew to be innocent, because he felt compelled to do so for his own survival. Was he wrong to do it?