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Faith IS the Foundation

Recently an atheist said to me: “But faith is the opposite of reason, you don’t need faith to use reason.”

I believe this is a huge misunderstanding for people today. You see, everyone starts with faith in something and then reasons from there.

St. Augustine said: “Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”

All understanding or reasoning begins with faith. Faith is not at the end of reason, but the beginning of it. An atheist would claim that knowledge comes from our senses and ability to reason. So your faith begins when you assume the validity of your senses and your ability to reason.
My question is, “What is the basis for trusting your senses and your ability to reason?” When examining this “foundation,” it breaks down to circularity:

“I trust my senses.”
How do you know that they are reliable?
“I sensed that they were.”

This is known as “Begging the question” and is a logical fallacy because of its circularity.

The only worldview that can account for the reliability of our senses is Christian worldview based on the one God, the God of the Bible.

The scripture points this out in 2 Timothy 2:25: “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth …”

Repentance—faith in God—comes first, then the acknowledging of the truth.

Leave18 Responses to testFaith IS the Foundation

  1. Rocky Salit August 18, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    Knowledge of oneself is axiomatic (Cogito ergo sum). Augustine had a version of this himself well before Descartes, “Si fallor sum.” If I am mistaken, I am. So that is the foundation.

    After that we trust our senses, but we also are well aware our senses can be wrong or deceived (I know my sense of sight is less reliable than average as I need an eye prescription, also my sense of hearing is above average as I can hear outside the the normal human range*). If our senses were perfect there would be no Magicians or Con Artists.

    That is what constant repetition of experiments is for. Also, why scientists all over the world review and attempt the same experiments. It is because we know we can be deceived by our senses.

    Yet, we are all still deceived at times. Uri Geller convinced a group of scientists that he was psychic by using mentalist and magician tricks. This is part of the reason for blind and double blind testing.

    Double Blind Testing (from Wikipedia) – an especially stringent way of conducting an experiment, usually on human subjects, in an attempt to eliminate subjective bias on the part of both experimental subjects and the experimenters. In most cases, double-blind experiments are held to achieve a higher standard of scientific rigor.

    In a double-blind experiment, neither the individuals nor the researchers know who belongs to the control group and the experimental group. Only after all the data have been recorded (and in some cases, analyzed) do the researchers learn which individuals are which. Performing an experiment in double-blind fashion is a way to lessen the influence of the prejudices and unintentional physical cues on the results (the placebo effect, observer bias, and experimenter’s bias). Random assignment of the subject to the experimental or control group is a critical part of double-blind research design. The key that identifies the subjects and which group they belonged to is kept by a third party and not given to the researchers until the study is over.

    This is a way to help prevent bias and sensory tricks.

    In other words, repetition is the key to understanding. It is not just a blind faith but, again like with your example of the past being like the future, it is a prediction.

    Now if you are trying to say that anything other than Christianity (ignoring that Judaism and Islam can use the exact same argument, and many other religions can make similar claims) has to be reduced to solipsism, then we can argue that even if solipsism is true (as it cannot be falsified, which makes it useless to any kind of testing) we must still treat the world as if it is not because as far as we can tell it is not.

    Also as noted above, other religions can make the same claim you have here. What you are doing is switching the burden of proof and making a false dichotomy by asserting you are right and asking the other side to prove themselves. You still need to prove that the Christian worldview is “the only worldview that can account for the reliability of our senses” because it is not an either or here.

    * This is also a way we can understand the limitations of our senses. By understanding an average range for humans and being able to use technology to help those on the lower curve of the average range Bell Curve, we show that our senses are affected by outside sources and we can measure those sources using other devices (i.e. glasses and hearing aids).

  2. Jon Richt August 18, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    According to your world view, Eric, are logical fallacies things to be avoided?

  3. Rocky Salit August 18, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Also the quote by Augustine is just an appeal to authority. Here I can do the same:

    “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” – Benjamin Franklin

    “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but – more frequently than not – struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God” – Martin Luther

    “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei

    “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing ‘Yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!’ If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it.” – Dan Barker

  4. Paul Lamon August 18, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    excellent post

    atheism always amazes me – if an atheist thinks he is reasonable, then what’s reasonable about believing that something could have come from nothing?

  5. Joakim Rosqvist August 18, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    You are correct that some amount of faith (senses, ability to reason) is required, but one should always try to minimize it, as anything you take on faith can be incorrect without you knowing it.

    “The only worldview that can account for the reliability of our senses is Christian worldview based on the one God, the God of the Bible.”

    Huh? That’s nothing more than an empty assertion. Why wouldn’t multiple gods, another god or worldviews without gods work just as well?

  6. S. Odom August 18, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    I believe it was Kirk Cameron who, when geniously speaking about becoming a believer said that one must “learn to circumvent or go around the person’s intellect.” Yes. That’s right. Basically when you say “Seek not to understand that you may believe…”, you might as well be saying “Don’t worry about facts, just believe.”

    To your question: “What is the basis for trusting your senses and your ability to reason?” The answer is twofold: 1) We have nothing else. Please tell me by what “sense” you read the Bible and what is the basis for trusting your senses when you do so? 2) We can see by results. In other words, the advancement of technology, health, communications, efficiency, the computer you are reading this on, etc, etc ,etc leaves us with no other recourse but to know that the scientific method which begins with imperical observation WORKS!

    A follow up to that observation is the following: what scientific acheivement can be attributed directly and only to faith in religion? Answer: the Dark Ages.

  7. David Ray August 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Saint Augustine also wrote:
    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field in which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

    I and the vast majority of scientist who have spent years and years dedicating ourselves to investigating and understanding the world around us find that you are mistaken. Your interpretations of the data have been shown to be wrong over and over again. Why should we trust you about God when you make inaccurate statements about evolution?

    You wrote: “My question is, “What is the basis for trusting your senses and your ability to reason?” When examining this “foundation,” it breaks down to circularity:
    “I trust my senses.”
    How do you know that they are reliable?”

    That’s the beauty of science. I am not relying on just my senses. What I see in my laboratory can be verified by other researchers working independently. That is how we know our findings are reliable. If others can’t observe the same thing, then my findings are not considered to be reliable.

    “The only worldview that can account for the reliability of our senses is Christian worldview based on the one God, the God of the Bible.”

    Wow, just wow. Last time I checked, wikipedia listed 38,000 Christian denominations. So which of the Christian worldviews/interpretations is it? Armenian Catholic or Baptist Bible Fellowship International? Why is the perfect word of God so difficult to interpret? Wouldn’t an all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe be able to write a book that we can all interpret the same way? Why should we trust your interpretations about God when you have demonstrated an inability to accurately communicate information about a basic biological theory?

  8. Jay Liverstitch August 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    Eric, I hear you and Sye claiming rather often that the Christian worldview is the only worldview that can account for rules of logic etc etc, but I’ve never once heard either of you (or any other presupassitional apologist) even attempt to back up such a claim. Would you care to try backing that up now, in this post?

    How about you just answer these questions:

    Why do rules of logic NOT comport with an Islamic worldview (after all, Islam also claims to follow a diety who created and sustains all of nature).

    Why do rules of logic NOT comport with a naturalistic worldview that states that laws of logic are constructs that aid in human understanding of how the universe operates?

    Jay

  9. H. Bosma August 19, 2010 at 6:43 am #

    Come on, this ‘argument’ is as old as it gets.

    It’s a non-reason only designed to prove a god is needed.
    You are building your logic on shaky ground. What would happen if god does not exists? Your logic falls.

    By building on senses, things I can see/feel/hear etc, but somebody else independently also can is the basis of logic. By cross referencing with others, you built knowledge.

    All ‘logic’ I see on this site is based on wrong assumptions.
    Your logic why evolution can’t exists stands no ground. It does not matter how life can into existence and how the earth was formed. Evolution assumes the existence of life, otherwise it cannot happen. It describes how organisms change and adapt to circumstances.

  10. bob gee August 19, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    so what is his reason not to use faith?

  11. bob gee August 19, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    hey eric when is your dad gettin out of the big house? I hope you sue the gov-ment into oblivian for a serious misjustice…I am currently in guatemala america is out of control…

  12. Rocky Salit August 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    if an atheist thinks he is reasonable, then what’s reasonable about believing that something could have come from nothing?

    Define nothing. Does the presence of energy = nothing? Or is nothing just a place without mass? Also why do you think that nothing has ever existed? Is it possible that the natural state of things is some form of mass/energy?

    There is always the First Law of Thermodynamics, that the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time. In other words matter/energy (as they are the same) cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system. So the real question comes down to, is the universe a closed system?

  13. Jack Napper August 19, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    “excellent post

    atheism always amazes me – if an atheist thinks he is reasonable, then what’s reasonable about believing that something could have come from nothing?”

    Nothing, which is exactly why Atheists don’t believe this. Funny thing is that this is exactly what Theists believe. Seriously, if you think Genesis is literal than this IS what you believe.

  14. Jon Richt August 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    I’m not going to claim victory because I never got an answer. Let me suggest the impications of the answers I could have gotten, though:

    1) Eric says “According to my world view, logical fallacies are things to be avoided”. This would have grave implications for Christian presuppositionalism, for Eric would have to admit that he can no more lay claim to certainty in his perception than can the atheist.

    2) Eric says “According to my world view, logical fallacies aren’t particularly important”. This would be wholly honest – refreshingly so! Based on my experience with fundagelicals, I’ve concluded that they have NO aversion to contradictions in logic. In fact, it’s clear that logic has no authority over their beliefs whatsoever. If Eric were to admit this outright, I would honestly respect him for it.

    With that said, having no need to avoid logical fallacies, his post IRT circularity would be effectively debunked. Circular logic would be completely acceptable (and I think most of us here suspect that Eric already believes this to be true).

  15. Nigel McNaughton August 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    “if an atheist thinks he is reasonable, then what’s reasonable about believing that something could have come from nothing?”

    Paul, what does that have to do with Atheism, other than being a Creationist Straw-man of Cosmology?

    Besides, if a Creationists believes “Nothing created God who created everything” why is it supposed to be unreasonable?

  16. Mark James August 20, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    If God created the universe, He must exist outside the universe. By its very nature science is limited to studying what’s in the universe. This means that science can tell us nothing about the existence, or non-existence of God and atheism is as much a faith as theism.

  17. Jack Napper August 22, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    “If God created the universe, He must exist outside the universe. By its very nature science is limited to studying what’s in the universe. This means that science can tell us nothing about the existence, or non-existence of God and atheism is as much a faith as theism.”

    Wow awesome example of a STRAWMAN. Atheism does not necessarily say there are no gods. While a god or gods may very well exist there is certainly no evidence for them. Despite all there efforts theists have been unable to put forth any real evidence for the existence of a deity.

    This is why Atheists say there is no god. Does it take FAITH to say there is no Santa Claus? While there very well could be a a Jolly Ol’ Fat Guy riding on a sleigh pulled by reindeer no one has yet to provide any evidence for the existence of SC.

    My advice to you to buy stock in Bayer. Why, because you seem like someone that’s going to be slapping themself in the head quite a bit and you’ll probably buy quite a bit of asprin.

    Hey Eric, I look forward to you tackling the grate Santa question in your next uh what is it called a CLOG, a DOG, a FROG or yeah thanks for explaining it like you think we are all 3 years olds. VLOG!

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