RE: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science

From: John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed Oct 31 2007 - 00:01:59 EDT

George,

 

Sorry for the delay in the response but I wanted to get back to you on this.
I remember your email on 23 October but then as now I am not sure I am in
agreement with you on the interpretation of Rom 1:20. That is an
interesting perspective but I don't see that as being consistent with the
rest of scripture.

 

There are many other scriptures that seem to imply this same "idolatry" of
natural theology. For instance, "The fool has said in his heart there is no
God", "The heavens declare the Glory of God" and God reveals His wrath
against those "who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" etc., etc.. To me,
these all make clear that God's perspective on the default conclusion of
natural revelation is that it leads to Him. I don't know where you get this
idolatry twist.

 

This I would consider valid knowledge and truth and therefore impertinent to
surrender that in any debate with atheists. I will concede that this is
knowledge from a spiritual source ultimately but as the above scriptures
indicate, all the evidence leads to it and the only way to avoid this
conclusion is to willfully reject it and live in denial of it. But however,
keep in mind that the source of truth or knowledge in no way disqualifies it
from being so. For instance, a good example from the ID literature is the
discovery of the benzene ring which was the result of a dream.

 

John

 

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 4:15 PM
To: John Walley; asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate
epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science

 

John -

 

In a post of 23 October I pointed out some of the problems with the type of
appeal to Rom.1:20 that you keep trying to make. In the real world in which
all people are sinful, one can speak of "knowledge" of God from creation
only in an extremely limited sense since the result of trying to develop
such a knowledge from observation of the world alone is inevitable idolatry.
That is Paul's whole point in that passage & it's a serious mistake to try
to make it into an argument for natural revelation.

 

& in fact "the project of natural theology" to which Groothuis refers is
simply the project of idolatry. An attempt to base the claim that "there is
a God" on observations of nature may be just barely defensible, but any
attempt to say who or what God (which is what a "theology" will do) will
always produce some false god.

 

Again, it's a quite different matter to look at the natural world in the
light of God's historical revelation which is centered on Christ & to try to
develop a "natural theology" as part of explicitly Christian theology. But
that doesn't seem to be what either Groothuis or you are talking about.

    

 

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/

----- Original Message -----

From: John Walley <mailto:john_walley@yahoo.com>

To: asa@calvin.edu

Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 3:50 AM

Subject: [asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate
epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science

 

Below is an excerpt of a blog posting of a review of a recent debate between
Dinesh D'Souza and Christopher Hitchens at King's College by philosopher and
professor Douglas Groothuis.

 

I am curious to get any comments from the list on his observations because
he charges Dinesh with selling the farm "epistemologically and
apologetically" because he concedes faith beliefs are not valid knowledge
and knowledge can only be what is empirically proven. This is very similar
to the recent discussion on the philosophical foundation from Rom. 20 of God
having revealed real knowledge (and not just faith) in his creation. And in
fact from this scripture that says that those that reject this knowledge are
"without excuse", it is clear God considers this revealed knowledge to be
valid and binding and manifest to all and not some subjective idea that is
subject to interpretation or the approval of science.

 

I think Groothius may have articulated it here better than I but I think we
are in agreement that as soon as we surrender this revealed "knowledge" as
not being valid and instead replacing it with only "science" then we have
already lost the debate. And this does appear to be the strategy of atheists
and therefore the danger in siding with them too strongly in their
marginalizing the arguments from ID.

 

Thanks

 

John

 

http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2007/10/debate-christianity-an
d-atheism.html

 

 

 

Debate: Christianity and Atheism

Dinesh D'Souza (author of What's So Great About Christianity) and
Christopher Hitchens (author of God is Not Great) recently debated
<http://www.worldontheweb.com/2007/10/24/dsouza-and-hitchens-debate-christia
nity/> at King's College. I will not give a point by point commentary, but
limit myself to three comments, the first of which is the most important.

1. At 1.26 D'Souza completely sells the farm epistemologically and
apologetically--despite the many fine points he made throughout the debate.
He claims that his religious belief is not knowledge. He does not know it to
be true; he only believes it. In so doing, he seems to restrict knowledge to
what is empirically verifiable. But there is no reason to do. We know many
things apart from empirical evidence (such as basic moral claims). Moreover,
we can infer the existence the supernatural from the natural (the project of
natural theology; see In Defense of Natural Theology, which I co-edited and
to which I contributed a chapter.) D'Souza goes on to say that while he
leaps toward God, Hitchens leaps toward atheism. I groaned loudly to myself
when I heard it (although my wife probably heard me). Many in the crowd
applauded.

This is tragic. We must enter the public square making knowledge claims, not
mere faith claims that are allowable, just as allowable as theism or some
other worldview. We need to try to out argue the opposition by marshalling
the strongest possible arguments for Christianity and against atheism. In
fact, D'Souza gave some strong arguments not adequately rebutted by Hitchens
by the time he sold the farm. There was no need to do so; and in so doing,
he sets a terrible example for Christian persuasion in the public realm
(despite the virtues he exhibited in the debate).

2. The form of the debate was poor. Neither speaker has enough time for
opening comments or for rebuttal. The supposed "cross examination" devolved
into haranguing at time, with the moderator (Marvin O'laski) failing to
intervene to keep order. Serious debates should have strict rules.

3. Both speakers issued cheap shots by insulting the other speaker in ways
not required by their arguments. This may get applause, but makes no logical
point.

Apparently, D'Souza has come to a more mature Christian conviction recently.
He is not known as a philosopher, but as a social critic and political
writer. I never detected an overt Christian worldview in the several books
I've read by him over the years. At that crucial time of 1:26 this weakness
showed. I have not yet finished his book, however. Perhaps I'll say more
then.

 

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Received on Wed Oct 31 00:03:23 2007

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