Saturday, June 28, 2008

Proper basicality, Sola Scriptura, and Ockham's Razor

When we read the Bible we have spontaneous belief formation that what we are reading is God's word. This is what Christian Philosopher Alvin Plantinga calls a "basic belief". Such beliefs have warrant if they produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly in a truth conducive environment with a design plan aimed at the production of true beliefs. Now this particular epistemological view point is externalistic and is pretty contentious view point since the majority of epistemologists are internalist. But despite that fact it seems to me to be the most reasonable alternative since internalistic epistemologists have failed to give sufficient internal grounds for such beliefs as the external world, our memory being reliable, and induction.

Since it seems reasonable to hold to externalistic proper functionalism then we can apply such notions to the reading of scripture. When we read the Bible we often have a belief form in us that makes us think that God is speaking to us in these documents and in the absence of a reason to doubt this we are warranted in thinking that the Old and New Testament is God's word.

Oddly enough Catholics and Eastern Orthodox think that it is a epistemic virtue in it's own right that we have warrant for the canon. This is when their canon argument comes into play. The East or the West will say "you can't justify the canon and this is a problem for your Protestant view point." But if we could be so sly as to turn the tables on them and ask "Why would we want to do such a thing as that?" If the Bible is not already properly basic and there is no reason for thinking it to be God's revelation then why do we need to justify it in the first place. This is because I think the East and the West are presupposing the Protestant view point because they themselves have such a belief formation through the cognitive faculty of the Holy Spirit when they read Holy Scripture. This is why they feel they ought to have an epistemological framework to justify scripture because it is an already had particular of knowledge.

Finally, if this is all true and it seems reasonable to think that it is, then why do we need an authoritative church speaking for God to justify canon? If it is already properly basic and we have good grounds for thinking it true then we don't need to appeal to a church at all. Why are we positing entities beyond necessity? This does seem to be a violation of a basic principle in metaphysics called "Ockham's Razor". This principle says that we shouldn't posit entities beyond necessity. But this is of course this is what the Roman and Eastern church does. So in light of these consideration's it seems that the Protestant position is once again the most reasonable.

NPT

8 comments:

Catz206 said...

Excellent post Nate! It is important to recognize the Holy Spirit's work in all of us in regards to the Scriptures. Also, thank you for bringing in Ockham's razor. The addition of the infallible Church to interpret the infallible documents seems quite unnecessary.

Keep up the great work!

David Cox said...

So are you saying that one should be able to pick up the Bible and just "know" that it is from God?

Aaron Snell said...

David,

So are you saying that one should just be able to hear the Church tell you the Bible is from God and just "know" that it is from God?

Nathanael Taylor said...

I would say: No. That interpretation of what I have written is so overly simplistic to the point that it is false. You are only warranted/justified in your belief that the Bible is the world of God iff 1) you are functioning properly, 2) in an appropriate environment, 3) your faculties are aimed at the production of true beliefs, 4) and finally in accordance with a design plan (which is aimed at truth; an obvious inference from the third necessary condition). If one does not hold this view of warrant/justification then it is hard to see how they justify beliefs about the existence of the external world (object existing apart from you/I perceiving or apprehending them as such), induction (the fact that the future is going to be like the past), reliability of an the sense, the reliability of memory, and the fact that we have existed longer than 5 minutes ago and that not all of our memories where implanted in us 5 minutes ago when we were created by Aliens. We are warranted in such beliefs so long as we do not have a internal defeater for it (that is to say if I find out, for example, that my memory is in fact unreliable or I find out that the Bible is historically unreliable). It's funny, it seems that the Romanist and the eastern folk are going to have to pull the same jigg because they are going to have to say that they just know that the church is the final authority from God. Any interesting and exciting question you can ask a Protestant about the Bible you can also ask a Papist about the church.

David Cox said...

Aaron,
Yeah, pretty much. Because whether you want to admit it or not, yoou have the bible because the Church gave it to you. All this stuff that Nathan is propounding makes no sense.

"1) you are functioning properly, 2) in an appropriate environment, 3) your faculties are aimed at the production of true beliefs, 4) and finally in accordance with a design plan (which is aimed at truth; an obvious inference from the third necessary condition)."

If one is not functioning properly, how would he know?

Nathan,

How can you know for certain that you meet he 4 criteria you have set?

Nathanael Taylor said...

If one is not functioning properly, how would he know?

Response: Because that belief is formed in spontenously by me functioning properly (and fulfilling all of those necessary conditions above).

Nathan,

How can you know for certain that you meet he 4 criteria you have set?

Response: I don't know for certain, I know it probably or fallibly. I could be mistaken but there is no reason for thinking it. Why think that I need to know it for certain?

Aaron,
Yeah, pretty much. Because whether you want to admit it or not, yoou have the bible because the Church gave it to you. All this stuff that Nathan is propounding makes no sense.

Response: To say that the church had to give us it for justification is just to beg the question. And what did I say that you didn't understand?

Donald said...

Sadly I have heard of Ockham's razor but nothing of the workings of the Holy Spirit within the church, nor of basic differences regarding sacraments. To regard one's own interpretation above that of the rich heritage and teachings of the church is to impoverish oneself, and not to compromise one's capacity to think.

Nathanael Taylor said...

Sadly I have heard of Ockham's razor but nothing of the workings of the Holy Spirit within the church, nor of basic differences regarding sacraments. To regard one's own interpretation above that of the rich heritage and teachings of the church is to impoverish oneself, and not to compromise one's capacity to think.

Response: The first sentence is like a riddle. I don't even know what you are arguing or where you are going. The second sentence is just a assertion that has absolutely nothing to do with my post. If you are going to make a post on here in the future try to be clear and on topic.

NPT