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Old 10-05-2008, 11:31 PM   #4
Samuel Dravis
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Originally Posted by Achilles View Post
I think this sentence is key to what's wrong with his argument: yes, they are answered in the same way. They are answered via observation. How we observe things and what we can draw from those observations does vary, but that does not mean that some other means is used.
I think that, for an extremely large amount of cases, this is true. However, there are some things that can be factually true without relying on observation; that is, definitions. Bahnsen's argument is based on defining certain things - universals, like logic, morality, etc - such as they require God in order to understand. While Bahnsen may not be (and probably is not) lying that these things require God, he forgets that his ideas are not independent of his own circumstances.

Could you expand on your thinking here please?
See above, on definitions. Additionally, there is a tendency to use the scientific method as an end-all way of coming to The Truth(tm), which I commented on with a note on Ayer, Popper and Feyerabend. I think it's important to keep in mind that not all knowledge is scientific, nor does it need to have a litmus test applied to it to make sure we really do know it. An art critic might know what a splash of paint means without having a theory which he uses to identify a particular case. I can even know what a stranger intends to do without needing to see him do it (except in extraordinary circumstances), if he tells me. We can be wrong about knowing something, but that's not a problem. In fact, that's often what distinguishes knowing from believing.

I'm going to jump ahead here other than to quickly note that I think Bahnsen has read too much William James at some point in his life

I always come back to the idea that 2+2=4 no matter where you go, what language you speak, or what flavor of carbon-based life form you are. Based on what you seem to be suggesting here, 2+2=4 only because that's what we've been conditioned to think. Am I missing something?
I'm afraid I must not have been very clear. Sorry!

Anyways, I don't think that 2+2=4 is true because we think that way. It's true that 2+2=4 is confirmed by observation, but the generality of the equation is not justified by those observations (this is part of Bahnsen's argument, actually). However, the proposition 2+2=4 is a part of our language and used in a certain way within it, and that use is intertwined with how we can talk about it. So, if an alien were to come and learn how we use it - see the context in which we apply it - then they'd know what we meant by 2+2=4. It's universal in that anyone who uses our methods of solving mathematical problems will inevitably come up with 4 as the answer to 2+2. Of course, there's no warranty for the results coming from anyone using some other method!

I hate when that happens

Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing it!
Sure. I'd been itching to write something long and frightening for a while now.
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