Re: Sorting out

Paul Arveson (
Tue, 9 Apr 96 12:40:13 EDT

The recent discussions on historicity, dualism and so forth, mostly seem to
revolve around the nature of truth. I haven't had time to study all the details
of the discussions, but I'm trying to sort all this out. I propose an equation:

T = M + O + U
truth = meaning + objectivity + unity.

This is what everyone seems to want.

Several problems arise in defining these terms, however.

Meaning in this context tends to be subjective, and some have offered
personal testimonies as major evidences for the truth of God. But such
expressions of personal commitment also entail biases that can predispose a
person to emphasize some observations and ignore or dismiss others. And
clearly, personal meanings by themselves carry little persuasive power over
others, so I had to add an objectivity term.

Does objectivity require that there be NO counterevidence? Or only that it
be a small amount, such as ".0001%" as Jeff Mullins suggests? Does objectivity
equal historicity, as Glenn Morton insists? Or is theology not to be
subservient to physical evidences at all? Is evidence for "gaps" still a
viable apologetic, or are gaps instead an attempt to make God a part of the
world-machine? Are they merely due to our ignorance of the coherence of nature?
Is such a coherent "nature" necessarily autonomous, or could it still be a
creation? Such discussions generated protests against an "upper story"
religious dualism. So I had to add a unity term.

Does unity rule out different descriptions of one kind of thing, or only
different descriptions of different kinds of things? In other words, is there
expected to be a unity on this side of God, or only in God himself? If the
former, what is the nature of that unity?

No doubt there are additional corrective terms.

Dear teachers: have I at least got these questions right? Have I missed
anything important? Are there parallels to these questions from the Medieval
period? From 20th century philosophy? Elsewhere?

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)
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