Re: The Thomas Trap

George Murphy (
Fri, 20 Nov 1998 09:11:18 -0500

Moorad Alexanian wrote:
> At 09:59 PM 11/19/98 -0500, George Murphy wrote:
> [deleted]
> > Well, if someone finds a skeleton unmitakeably identifiable as that of Jesus
> >of Nazareth there would be such a misfit.
> > But my approach to apologetics is more fundamental and more distinctively
> >Christian than the one for which you argue. It makes use of the fact that
> one must
> >begin with presuppositions, and then evaluate those presuppositions _a
> posteriori_
> >from their results. That is the way science works. Einstein didn't first
> "prove" that
> >c is the same for all observers. He _assumed_ it and then showed that a
> coherent theory
> [deleted]
> It is true that without presuppositions, humans cannot reason. There is
> something in the nature of man that makes it a thinking machine. Citing the
> way we do science is a good way of illustrating that machine but it goes
> beyond science. Humans are also "detectors" of the nonphysical--read
> spiritual. The spiritual realm is totally foreign to a truly mechanical,
> thinking machine. The spiritual realm can never be detected by scientific
> measuring devices. [All the data of science can be gathered by real,
> nonthinking machines.] Kant indicated that the notions of space and time
> are a priori in the human. I believe there are such spiritual notions which
> are inherent to man also.

An interesting analogy. Torrance has cited it to, but to the opposite effect.
Kant thought that Euclidean geometry was an a priori notion & that we have to see the
world as Euclidean. The development of non-Euclidean geometries & Einstein's use of
them to gain greater understanding of the physical world showed that Kant was wrong - &
not only about Euclid. We must try to understand the world in the way in which it
actually is given to us, not in terms of presuppositions formed before we look at the
& the point Torrance has made is that the same is true of God and God's
relationship with the world. A notion of God based on a supposed natural or
inherent knowledge of God is likely to be as misleading as an a priori assumption of
Euclidean geometry. We must instead try to understand God in accord with the way in
which God actually gives himself to us, in the historical revelation which culminates in
Jesus Christ. Thus "natural theology" is not an independent preparation for proper
Christian theology, but should be seen explicitly as a _part_ of proper Christian

George L. Murphy