Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/14/2014: How Do We Know?

June 12, 2014

What’s coming up when I record the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For those wondering when the episodes will be up soon for your listening pleasure, we are working on that. I will be meeting a techie friend of mine tonight who is going to show Allie and I everything that we need to know to get them online. We are working to do all that we can, but we would appreciate any support from those of you who do like the podcast and want it to keep going.

But for now, let’s move on to this Saturday’s show. What are we talking about?

Epistemology.

Dang. That sounds exciting. Some of you might be wondering what that is.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. What is knowledge and how do we know anything at all? In fact, the book we’ll be looking at is by two Christian authors named James K. Dew Jr. and Mark W. Foreman. The book is “How Do We Know?” It is an introduction to epistemology.

So who are these guys?

Let’s start with James Dew since he’s listed first on the book.

“Dr. Jamie Dew grew up in Statesville, NC but moved to Raleigh, NC in 1994. Through the witness of some of his friends, he came to Christ when he was 18 years old and surrendered to vocational ministry shortly thereafter. He earned a B.S. in Biblical Studies from Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa, GA in 2000 and then moved to Wake Forest, NC to work on his graduate degrees. He earned his PhD in Theological Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2008, and is working on a second PhD in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham in England. He is the author of Science and Theology: An Assessment of Alister McGrath’s Critical Realist Perspective (Wipf & Stock, 2010), co-author of How Do We Know?: A Short Introduction to the Issues of Knowledge (IVP, 2013), and co-editor of God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain (IVP, 2013). Dr. Dew pastored in NC for 10 years, and also served in various churches as a Youth Pastor and Minister to Adults. Now, Dr. Dew is the Vice President for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Support and is the Dean of the College at Southeastern. He has been married for 13 years to his wife Tara and they have two sets of twins: Natalie & Nathan (6) and Samantha & Samuel (3).”

Dew_2

And who is Mark Foreman?

“Mark W. Foreman is professor of philosophy and religion at Liberty
University where he has taught philosophy, apologetics, and bioethics for 25 years. He has an MABS from Dallas Theological Seminary and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He is the author of Christianity and Bioethics (College Press, 1999, [reprint Wipf and Stock, 2011] ), Prelude to Philosophy: An Introduction for Christians (InterVarsity Press, 2014), How Do We Know: An Introduction to Epistemology (with James K. Dew,Jr., InterVarsity Press, 2014) and articles in the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Harvest House, 2008) as well as chapters in Come Let us Reason: New Essay in Christian Apologetics (B&H, 2012) Steven Spielberg and Philosophy (with David Baggett, University of Kentucky Press, 2008) and Tennis and Philosophy (University of Kentucky Press, 2010). Mark has been a member of Evangelical Philosophical Society for over 20 years and is currently serving as vice-president of the society. His specializations are Christian apologetics, biomedical ethics and ethics.”

Foreman

Please be looking for this broadcast as we discuss their books and questions related to it such as “Is faith an epistemology” as Peter Boghossian claims, and “Is science the only way or the highest way of knowing?” as many internet atheists claim.

I hope to have everything up shortly. Be watching!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: How Do We Know

March 7, 2014

What do I think of Foreman and Dew’s book on epistemology? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Foreman and Dew have written this in order to explain epistemology to people who have never really considered it and in our day and age, it’s more necessary than ever. After all, you have people like Peter Boghossian out there wanting to train up “street epistemologists” to deconvert Christians from their faith. In addition to that, there is a rampant scientism in our society that says science is the way to know the truth. If what you say is not scientific, then it is not a fact.

So how is it that we do know anything at all and what is knowledge? Naturally, you won’t find a comprehensive refutation of positions in this work. Instead, it’s more to get you thinking about what the different positions are. The authors themselves do not come down on either side in the debate. After reading it, I cannot tell you what position either one of them holds.

The authors also go through the classical problems in studies of epistemology. One such example that will be well-known to students of philosophy is the Gettier Problem. (To which, I remember when this was discussed in my epistemology class one of my classmates immediately asked the professor about Gettier. His question? “Did he get tenure?” Yes. He definitely did get tenure after that.)

Gettier’s problem was to show that you could have a belief that was justified and that was true, but even then that might not be enough to say that you had knowledge. This is problematic since the prior definition of knowledge has been justified true belief, which means that now philosophers are looking to see if a fourth item might need to be added to the list.

Those dealing with new atheist types will be pleased to see the authors make a statement about faith and how faith is not a way of knowing but is rather a response of trust to what one is shown to be true. Of course, we seriously doubt that Peter Boghossian and others like him will pay any attention to anything that goes against their beliefs.

Along those lines, there is also a section on whether one can know through divine revelation which includes a short apologetic for Christianity. The authors are both Christians and do hold that divine revelation can be a valid way to possess knowledge.

If there’s a concern I have with the book, I would have liked to have seen more interaction with the medieval period. Too often we talk about Plato and Aristotle and then jump ahead to Descartes. A few times Aquinas is cited but not often. I do not remember Augustine being cited but that could have been something I overlooked. There were plenty of great thinkers as well in the medieval period and it does help to see how we got from the ancient to the modern era.

Despite this one misgiving, I find that this book will be an excellent start for those wanting to learn about epistemology. You won’t walk away with a firm conclusion most likely, but you will walk away hopefully knowing that you need to look.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Knowledge and Love

June 24, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been going through 1 Corinthians 13 lately and tonight, I’d like to look at one of my favorite topics as an apologist, and that is the topic of knowledge. After all, for many of us, our books are our life’s blood. A Seminary professor’s wife I know once stated in a talk to women whose husbands were in Seminary “Make peace with the books.” Books mean everything to us.

The relevant part of 1 Cor. 13:2 tonight tells us that if we can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge but don’t have love, we are nothing. Now consider that if you are of the apologetic mindset. Paul refers to many things in the Bible as mysteries. These could not be understood without divine revelation. Note that he doesn’t mean it in the sense in which a pastor often asked how God can be three and one says “It’s a mystery” instead of giving an answer that He is three in one sense and one in another.

Imagine having that spiritual insight that when Paul speaks about a mystery, you could say that you knew it all along. You were able to divine that before the revelation was given. Paul wants you to realize that even if you could do that, if you did not have love, you are nothing.

What about if you have all knowledge? Now Paul does say in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that knowledge puffs up. The solution to this is not to cast aside knowledge but to gain humility in addition to knowledge. Sadly, this knowledge can often come across in the form of spirituality. After all, I know what God approves and disapproves of and I am a better Christian than you for doing what he approves and not doing what he does not approve.

In the apologetics community however, it’s easy to think that you have to answer every objection out there. It’s tempting to see other people as a threat. We have to avoid that. We also have to realize that just because someone knows a lot about God, it does not mean that they really know God. The love of God is more than intellectual knowledge, although it is certainly helped by such knowledge. The more you love something, the more you will want to know about that something.

C.S. Lewis wrote about how it can be to look at the woman in church who is a little old lady and think about what an impoverished life she lives not knowing about such things as the Nicene Creed or the Calvinism/Arminianism debate or who Irenaeus and Justin Martyr were, but then you realize that in her prayer life and devotion to God overall, you are not worthy to untie her sandals, it brings a humility to you. Let us never make the mistake of thinking that being a better Christian apologist means that we are a better Christian.

Now I’m not saying that this lady would not be blessed by knowing about the Nicene Creed and such. In fact, I think she should seek to know about them, but she does not have to be an intellectual. Not all Christians are of that kind of mindset. That is fine. Each has their own part to play.

For instance, in our household, I am the intellectual. My wife is smarter than she realizes, but her bent is more towards matters of the heart. That is fine. She helps me in many ways by seeing things from a layman’s perspective that I often miss and by being a strong encouragement and fortification for me.

Is knowledge important? Absolutely. Knowledge is not love and if we do not have our knowledge with love, we essentially have nothing.

We shall look at the next part next time.