Friday, January 20, 2017

Piper's Inauguration Day Comments, also Grace To You's

"Note well: Trump has not, as far as I am aware, publicly renounced these behaviors as evil, but deflected the issue by talking only about the “language,” calling it “locker-room talk.” However, the main issue was not his talk. It was his immoral action asserted in the talk."
That's clarity of thought.
"Followers of Christ are not Americans first. Our first allegiance is to Jesus, and then to the God-inspired word of Scripture, the Bible. This is our charter, not the U.S. Constitution." 
Cameron Buettel
"We are never called to go to war with our mission field. Like Paul, our interactions with civic leaders and rulers should be fueled by our desire to further the gospel."
That page links to three sermons on the Christian's relationship to government.

This is the passage of Scripture that Franklin Graham chose to read after Trump had spoken his inaugural address:
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time."
1 Timothy 2

~ W

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Intro to Transcendental Argumentation

Transcendental arguments have two major distinguishing aspects:

One, is that they are circular. All circular arguments have the following features:

  • They are logically valid, and they prove themselves. Circular logic is most often found in the form of the conclusion being a restatement of the premise. This is not invalid reasoning, but the reason it is usually avoided is that it is not helpful. Simply restating your premise in your conclusion doesn't give any new information. But an argument that does not simply restate the premises, but nevertheless proves the premise in the conclusion, would both a) be logically circular and b) useful.
  • The major distinction between vicious circular reasoning and a transcendental argument, then, can be boiled down to the following: useless circular logic is arbitrary. But transcendental reasoning is not arbitrary. Another way of putting that is that transcendental reasoning is necessary. Or at least that it may be, as one means of being non-arbitrary.

Two, is that they are constructed in such a way that any attempt to refute them will result in any opposing argument contradicting itself. That is to say, a transcendental argument is tautologically true and all rejections of it are tautologically false.

Example one, taken from Jason Lisle, PhD, The Ultimate Proof of Creation, Master Books, 2009.

Major Premise; If there were no laws of logic, then we could not make an argument.
Minor Premise: There are laws of logic.
Conclusion: Therefore, we can make an argument.

"How do you know there are laws of logic?" This kind of response is common to most cases where a premise is asserted without reference to some other premise that has been established by consensus or previously concluded. But it does not apply, here. The minor premise is not arbitrary. It is not presented for no reason. This is shown when, if you attempt to deny the premise, you deny your own ability to argue against it. Any attempt to argue against this proof must implicitly rely on the existence of universal laws of logic that govern truth and falsehood.

If you deny the major premise, you claim that we can make an argument without laws of logic (nonsense) or that you cannot make an argument even though laws of logic exist (also nonsense). If you deny the minor premise, you are attempting to use logical argumentation to argue against your privilege to use logical argumentation. You contradict yourself, and are therefore wrong by the law of non-contradiction. Notice that this, too, is a law of logic -- but if you deny such laws, you are left incapable of arguing against the existence of such a law that is binding on your behavior. You are in a lose-lose position.

Something Dr. Lisle pointed out with emphasis in the book is that the entire proof is a logical argument, and utilizes the Modus Tollens method of denying the consequent (the second half of the first premise's if-then statement). It uses logical argumentation to prove that logical argumentation is necessary. This is circular. You haven't yet proven the conclusion when you begin to make the argument. But it is inevitable. And the thing that makes it recognizably transcendental is that any attempt to deny or refute any part of the argument results in self-refutation. Your opponent is forced to contradict himself.

As a matter of logical definition, there is no truth-value to the premises (true or false, that is, no matter which combination of calling them true or false) that results in a false conclusion; therefore, the conclusion is tautologially true. It isn't just true, it can't be anything but true, in any situation, ever. Thus, you can be completely confident that what you now know, will never change.

The Bible is transcendentally and tautologically true. With such a logical system at the core of our identity and beliefs about the world, Christians have complete, unwavering confidence that can never change, no matter what they encounter. This sort of faith in God is not blind, naive, or ignorant. It is so thoroughly based upon knowledge and logical reasoning that there is no possibility that anything else has ever been true or could ever be true, which contradicts the Bible. Not just because we hope so, but because it is materially impossible.

Here is an example of a transcendental argumentation form, using a common claim by atheists against God's existence:

Atheist: All positive claims have the burden of proof.
Christian: That is a positive claim. The burden of proof is on you to prove that the burden of proof is on those who make positive claims.

  If you (as 'the atheist') tried to say that the Burden of proof is not on you to prove that the burden of proof is on those who make positive claims, then you claim a) to have not made a positive claim, which is false or b) that the burden of proof is not on those who make positive claims. Your only logical conclusion is to accept that the burden of proof is on you to prove that the burden of proof is on those who make positive claims. And that is how you lose an argument in spectacular fashion. 

The point of this exercise is also partly to show that all claims are ultimately positive. There is no such thing as a negative claim, just like there are no negative numbers. "Negative" is just a direction from a reference frame. The position of skepticism toward a positive claim is the same as the positive claim that "positive claim x is not irrefutably true." And that is just what Christianity is--irrefutably true. Not just true, but necessarily true, and everything that disputes it is false, and cannot be otherwise, by definition.

This is a logical position of strong faith.

The Christian is not irrational by using the Bible to prove other religions wrong. He is not merely arbitrarily asserting one over the other. It is much deeper than the typical critic believes. The Bible refutes all other worldviews because all other worldviews contradict the Bible, AND that any attempts to defend those worldviews by arguing that the Bible is false will result in self-refuting states of affairs.

All circular logic is valid, and the conclusion proves the premise.
Non-arbitrary circular logic is necessary to form a foundation for knowledge.
Something is tautological if no matter what part of the argument (which of the premises) you pick apart to deny the truth or falsehood of, the conclusion will always be true.
Something irrefutable is something that can never be proven wrong by using logical reasoning.
A transcendental argument is recognized by the fact that it presents a seemingly arbitrary argument, which involves circular reasoning, and all attempts to refute it results in the creation of an internal contradiction within the opposing argument.

~ W

Further Reading: An excellent introductory chapter to AiG's newest book, available on site.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Christian Identity and Racial Identity

A friend shared with me how their InterVarsity campus group had opened up their large group meeting by announcing that "IV is a multicultural, multiethnic campus christian group. Just look around you at all the different faces."

This came in the context of a discussion on Christian identity. I responded with the way I might have opened a campus group -- or introduction to a sermon on Christian identity and race -- which is reproduced below.

"Yeah sigh. If I had wanted to  draw attention to differences--first, it wouldn't be in the introduction because as I said, it's not fundamental to who we are, the Gospel is, and if I led a Bible study or church or small group or campus group, I would lead with the naked Gospel from the get-go-- I would say something along the lines of "He has made of one blood all nations, and appointed the boundaries of their dwellings," referencing Paul at the Areopagus, and probably quote the whole passage, 
22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”Acts 17:22-31
and say "God loves to tell a good story. And one of the things that continually amazes me is the ways in which He has accomplished to cause the same exact message to be faithfully transmitted to and believed by so many different--and unlikely--people. Scripture says that there is neither slave nor free/jew/greek/etc for all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). More specifically, all who are in Christ Jesus are one. Apart from God, we might first identify as our gender, our social status, our "race", etc. But true followers of Christ are first and foremost Christians, and all else is secondary. We are not Christian women, or Asian Christians, we are Christians. Our race or sex does not influence our view of Christianity or the Bible, it is our Christianity and the Bible that influences how we look at our race or our sex. Not the other way around, and anybody that has this confused has not internalized the Romans passage I just quoted. Christ demands that you lay down everything else in order to have Him. Did He mean to make an exception for our political or social identities? If you see yourself as something else before you see yourself as a Christian, then you see something else as more important and more valuable than Christ. This is a very dangerous place to be, because anything that gets between us and God is an idol. In light of the tendency of people to identify as a race, it is truly fascinating when God causes people to set that aside and unite as Christians." "

~ W