Aug 25, 2013

On Bias

I believe we all have cognitive bias in the sense we all interpret data through our network of axioms; we have a meta narrative that acts as a framework for our hermeneutic. I know these can be altered and shifted, however, and that is one reason why I cherish meaningful dialogue.

Yes, metanarrative was/is a post-modern buzz word. Hey, but not everything about post-modernism was false, you know. In some respects, it offered a course corrective to Western Civilization's post-Enlightenment hyper-modernism IMHO

My ideas on this come from a few places but mainly Romans 1:21-23; 8:5-8 and 1 Corinthians 2:14 - these verses support the concept of the' noetic effects of sin'. However, Christians likewise should be bound by the Lordship of Christ upon all areas of life, including the 'life of the mind'. For that, I would go to 2 Corinthians 10:5 or even Luke 10:27, for example. 

Sometimes this discussion falls under something called 'the myth of neutrality'.SEE THIS VIDEO FOR MORE ON THAT - NOTE: sometimes people espousing the aforementioned concepts are more philosophically hostile than I would prefer to be but I still hold to the underlying truth of the antihesis between worldviews (if properly understood).

Still, we are all human creatures who dwell in the Triune God's world as finite beings. This is our main point of contact in my view.

To be clear, I am NOT claiming Christians are neutral and non-Christians are not - quite the opposite. If I hold to God's revelation about who and what a person is inside as well as how all things came to be and upon what foundation they stand - then I believe no one is neutral in the sense of 'without prejudgment' or 'without prior commitments' or 'without underlying assumptions'. Greg Bahnsen in 'Always Ready' (p. 52):

"God's ownership and governing of all things" ... "precludes the possibility of any neutral ground between the believer and unbeliever, but it assures us that there is abundant common ground (metaphysically speaking) between them, since all men are God’s creatures and live in God’s world."

One blogger summed it up this way, "While the common ground is not neutral, it does exist."

The difference, then, is not that one is 'better' than the other but one (at this point) has been a recipient of grace and one (at this point)... has not (of course, all people are the recipients of God's general grace but here I specifically mean salvific grace). 

I understand all these ideas are patently offensive to us all. I do not say any of this with glee or in a vindictive way. I say it with earnestness and honesty ... I pray that people do not read these comments and become immediately upset, but rather ask themselves if it is true? Even if they say it is not, I hope that we can see this is a necessary inference from special revelation (a technical term for Scripture), specifically, the effects of the fall and even more specifically, the noetic effects of sin.

I understand some of my Christian family do not agree with the Reformed view about the depth of saturation of sin upon the human person's psyche, but this is one reason I am Reformed! I believe the doctrine of radical corruption (or total inability) is a more precise reading of Scripture than say, a more Arminian, Thomistic, or Pelagian reading

I apologize for all the qualifications, I was in more 'nuanced' mood tonight. 

Also, I haven't got it all figured out but I think I lean more towards John Frame's interpretation of Cornelius Van Til than Greg Bahnsen's. Both men have written commentaries on Van Til's thought and I think I may be more in line with Frame's understanding. But these are big and very detailed areas and so I am still trying to put together all the pieces. Read Frame writing about his book on Van Til (note, this is not essential to understand what I'm saying, no one should feel obliged to look into it, it is just 'bonus material').

As a student of Scripture, what I want to ask is Van Til's work founded in Scripture? Is it a logical outcome? Very often, I think the answer is yes. Bahnsen and Frame, then, re helpful in sorting through all that and helping a guy like me to better understand what he was trying to say, as it was not always as clear as it could be. Still, his big ideas about epistemology and apologetics resonate powerfully with me.

 On Greg Bahnsen, I don't know much about his bio, but his education is as follows: "He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California, specializing in the theory of knowledge. He previously received the B.A. (magna cum laude, philosophy) from Westmont College, and then simultaneously earned the M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary." I do also know he was a surfer, was mentored by Van Til and debated a number of atheist academics on university campuses as well as on the radio. He also mixed it up once or twice with a Muslim and a Jew as part of a panel at a public university. 

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