Why Christian Epistemology is a Contradiction.

Christians often tell us that they have a special kind of epistemology which gives them a conduit to some divine truth, to which we mere mortals are not privvy. These kinds are usually one of three: Biblical infallibility, “divine intervention” (miracles) and divine revelation. I have already discussed the absurdity of the belief in an infallible book, but this is more of an epistemic look at the question.

There are three major reasons why any Christian epistemic standard is necessarily flawed.

1. All such standards are circular, as they assume the existence of God in order to prove the existence of God.

This one is pretty obvious. To believe in the Bible as infallible, in divine intervention, or in divine revelation, you already need to believe in God. Not only that, but you need to believe in a set of equally absurd propositions about God. To accept the Bible as an epistemic standard, for example, we would need to justify propositions such as:

* I believe that God exists.
* I believe that God can, and does, intervene in the universe.
* I believe that God can speak to human beings.
* I believe that God cares about human beings enough to communicate to them. I believe that humans can understand God and write his words in a book.
* I believe that I can make the difference between a communication from God and one from Satan (e.g.).

In fact, this list more or less also applies to “divine revelation” and “divine intervention”, unless we’re talking about the naturalistic arguments, in which case only the first two points would apply.

One can counter-argue that, as long as one believes in God, these methods make sense. But this is not sufficient. One must also believe in 2, 3 and 4 in order to accept the method. The end result of this is tautological: what you get from using the method is more or less already contained within its premises. Same for the naturalistic arguments also.

2. They contradict the contingent nature of the theistic worldview itself. The theist must either accept our epistemic playing field or lose by default.

To claim that there is such a thing as a Christian epistemology is self-contradictory, because the Christian worldview is contingent on the will of God. What does this mean? Well, take the example of the Bible. To accept the Bible as infallible, I must necessarily assume that it will remain true for all time. This is an assumption that, given the contingency of the information given in the Bible, I simply cannot make.

This must be true even in supposed historical matters. Suppose the Bible says that at a certain year, the Jews conquerred this or that other region. Well, surely God has access to the entirety of spacetime, that is, if omnipotence means anything at all. And if this is so, then it can also make it so that the Jews are defeated when trying to effect said conquest. Thus God can make even a historical matter contingent. But even if we exclude such cases, there is still plenty of information which either should be true today, or is supposed to come true in the future, which God can change.

The obvious Christian reply to this is that God does not lie. The equally obvious atheistic reply to this is to point out that there is no possible means for the Christian to know such a thing. It is entirely possible that God is deluding the Christian in believing that it does not lie. Once you accept that God is omnipotent, the only consistent course of action is to systematically cast anxiety on all the laws of nature and psychology.

More simply, no epistemology can hold in the Christian worldview, because the worldview by definition excludes the possibility of knowing anything with any certainty whatsoever. If the uniformity of nature is an illusion (as the Christians like to remind us regularly), then everything we know is an illusion.

The same thing holds true for the other two epistemologies. Suppose someone tells me that he knows predestination is true because he received a divine message. Well, omitting all the problems discussed in the first point, and therefore assuming that he is right, he would still have to explain to us why he thinks that God would hold true to his promise. If someone makes a naturalistic argument by pointing at some law of nature, we would have to ask him why he believes in such a law in a contingent universe. Something that is contingent cannot have any laws.

3. Demonstrating that another epistemic standard is valid is impossible without the use of reason. Only reason is derivable from foundational principles.

Reason is composed of the senses, logic, and concept-formation. Any other epistemology must rely on these three methods in order to even exist. So the fact that their results conflict with the results of reason means that they are contradictory.

Let’s start with the Bible again. To know that the Bible even exists, I need to be able to perceive it in some way, preferably through sight. I need to be able to understand the words logically (although they may not make logical sense), and I need to know what the concepts in it mean. So on the way to making a dogmatic statement about Jesus or the end of the world or whatever, the Christian has already validated reason in its entirety. So he has confirmed the validity of reason in order to completely deny the validity of reason. This is a blatant contradiction.

Now, a Christian may argue that his epistemologies are in fact not contradictory to reason, but complementary to reason. But it is hard to see how two completely opposite conclusions can be complementary. If reason tells us God does not exist, and his epistemology tells us it does, then it hardly befits him to claim that reason is impotent in that area. He can try to argue rationally, which brings him to our level, but arguing from his own epistemology will do him no good.

The other epistemologies suffer from the same problem. If one believes in receiving divine revelation, he must receive such a revelation in some comprehensible form. Such a form must be perceived, it must be logically perceived, and its conceptual contents must be understood. Divine intervention also proceeds in the same way.

What does this imply? Does it mean I believe that Christians cannot know anything inherently? Not really. After all, they do imitate us, like the good monkeys that they are. But unless they can justify a Christian epistemology, they are stuck with the unpalatable conclusion that they are stealing our knowledge in order to deny it.

39 thoughts on “Why Christian Epistemology is a Contradiction.

  1. samonedo January 16, 2007 at 17:34

    “So he has confirmed the validity of reason in order to completely deny the validity of reason. This is a blatant contradiction.”

    François, you are terror for christianity and knows it better than any christian. Excellent point.

  2. chris van allsburg August 7, 2008 at 12:23

    Francois,

    You are incorrect on at least two counts: Christians do not deny the validity of reason. They deny that reason alone is sufficient to provide an adequate theory of knowledge. We do agree that the validity of reason needs to be presupposed in order to justify its use.

    Secondly, your assertion that it is impossible to know whether or not God can lie is also false. Your argument fails to consider that we believe God not because of his omnipotence only, but because he is the Lord of the Covenant. The covenants of God are his promises to be faithful, and God swears by himself. He is faithful and true, and we believe the Scriptures by faith.

    Furthermore, we do not believe our starting point in knowledge is the abract entity called Reason. In fact, we believe that Faith is the ground from which Reason stems. This Faith has its object in the character and providence of the covenantal God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is not an abstract, object-less entity either. It has its ground in the objective, historical covenants of God. This is why Israel exists: to show God is a God of history.

    Finally, we admit to reasoning in a circle, but we affirm that all people everywhere reason in a circle. You used the laws of logic, and the validity of reason in your post without justifying why reason is trustworthy in the 1st place. We challenge you to prove reason is trustworthy in a universe that is not controlled by a personal, loving God. If the universe is a closed system, your use of reason is relativistic: whether you affirm its authority, or whether western culture affirms it authority, it boils down to relativism.

    But we Christians do affirm the trustworthiness of reason because the personal God of the universe has given us reason and it stems from his logical mind and trustworthy character.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  3. Francois Tremblay August 7, 2008 at 15:03

    “You are incorrect on at least two counts: Christians do not deny the validity of reason. They deny that reason alone is sufficient to provide an adequate theory of knowledge.”

    I didn’t say Christians explicitly deny the validity of reason. But when they draw conclusions that are irrational, they implicitly deny the validity of reason at arriving at valid conclusions.

    “The covenants of God are his promises to be faithful, and God swears by himself. He is faithful and true”

    How do you know that’s true?

    (also, do you often unconditionally trust people who swear on themselves?)

    “You used the laws of logic, and the validity of reason in your post without justifying why reason is trustworthy in the 1st place.”

    Because that was not the topic of my entry, obviously. Your objection is disingenuous.

    “We challenge you to prove reason is trustworthy in a universe that is not controlled by a personal, loving God.”

    I challenge you to prove reason is trustworthy in a universe where there can be no absolutes because there exists an omnipotent transcendent being outside of causality that can change any supposed truth.

    As Christians are eager to repeat to us again and again, the universality of nature is just an assumption to them. And the universality of nature (which is to say, a purely materialistic universe) is necessary in order to validate logic and reason.

    Here is a video I made on this topic:

  4. chris van allsburg August 7, 2008 at 17:35

    Thanks for your reply. I didn’t expect one as the original post was written 1 1/2 yrs ago….

    I have many good reasons for trusting the bible, reasons which I can’t delineate in such a short place. However, I will say that I think Christianity is the best explaination available compared to alternative worldviews (or what have you). For example, I find Hinduism irrational because it believes evil is “maya,” or illusion. I think it’s plain that evil exists.

    I know things about God to be true because I have faith in the Bible. Faith is not irrational: it has its object in a the concrete absolute of God, his character, and his work in history. Don’t non-christians exercise faith in their epistemic foundations, whatever they are? don’t people have to assume the validity of the senses in order to engage in empirical study, and so forth?

    God doesn’t change any truth, because the truth rests in his character. When we talk about Yahweh, we are talking about someone trustworthy as he has revealed himself in his revelation to us. When you opine that God can arbitrarily change the truth, you are speaking of your own conception of God, not the God as revealed in Scripture. “I the Lord do not change, so you o descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” (Malachi 3:6). This is a covenantal promise the Lord gave the Israelites. And he kept his promise….

    And why is my appeal to your use of the laws of logic disingenuine? You do mention logic and it is obviously part of your argumentation.

    You noted,
    “Only reason is derivable from foundational principles….Reason is composed of the senses, logic, and concept-formation. Any other epistemology must rely on these three methods in order to even exist. So the fact that their results conflict with the results of reason means that they are contradictory.”

    I have two questions in addition to my 1st one above: what are the foundational principles upon which reason rests? Why is “only reason” derivable from these principles?

    Yours,
    Chris

  5. Francois Tremblay August 7, 2008 at 17:52

    Like all presuppositionalists, you are very, very eager to throw the burden of proof back on me. I understand why, since you have no position yourself. This is a standard way of thinking.

    How do you know God keeps his promises?
    Well, because you have faith. You believe he does. You don’t know and you cannot know that. Once you accept the concept of a transcendent being that can mold your very will and change the laws of reality, you cannot know *anything* beyond that- everything becomes pure conjecture.

    You trust, you believe, you have faith, but you don’t *know*. You are free to live your life that way, if that’s what you want. But there’s nowhere to go except inside your own head. It’s a very self-absorbed way to live.

  6. chris van allsburg August 7, 2008 at 17:52

    Francois,

    I watched your you tube video. Very well put together! You have talent, for sure. Also, I detect an eastern european accent in your voice. Are you from Russia?

    Anyway…

    In your presentation you say that you are a materialist.

    Do you believe that the laws of logic are material?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  7. Francois Tremblay August 7, 2008 at 17:53

    “Do you believe that the laws of logic are material?”

    Yes, of course- both as ideas in our minds and as properties of all objects.

  8. chris van allsburg August 8, 2008 at 00:58

    Francois,

    If the laws of logic are material, how do we know that the laws of logic in your brain are the same ones as the laws of logic in my brain? Aren’t our two brains different? How is there uniformity with these laws, then?

  9. chris van allsburg August 8, 2008 at 00:59

    also, you said the laws of logic are ideas in our minds. Is the mind the same as the brain? And how can an idea be material?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  10. Francois Tremblay August 8, 2008 at 01:07

    “If the laws of logic are material, how do we know that the laws of logic in your brain are the same ones as the laws of logic in my brain? Aren’t our two brains different? How is there uniformity with these laws, then?”

    I think you got two concepts confused. “Uniformity of nature” means that the laws of nature themselves do not change, not that we all hold to the same understanding of them. It means that if I throw something up and it falls back down, it will also fall back down if I do the experiment tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day… or that the Earth will keep orbiting the Sun because the law of gravity will not disappear (unlike the Bible’s position on the subject).

    “also, you said the laws of logic are ideas in our minds. Is the mind the same as the brain? And how can an idea be material?”

    To be more specific, I said that the laws of logic exist both in our minds and as a property of matter. More specifically, they exist as a property and are formulated (reduced to propositions) as laws in our minds.

    The mind is not the same as the brain, it is an emergent property of the brain.

    How can an idea be material? I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean how an idea is created?

  11. chris van allsburg August 8, 2008 at 11:52

    Francois,
    What I mean by the uniformity of the laws of logic is there ontological reliability, and how we can epistemologically justify them if they are material properties.

    If they are material properties, then we have to assume that every sentient being (humans, animals) operates with the same properties that are inherent to their natures. How can this be? If the universe is a closed system, impersonal and blind (as it were) then how can each and every human have the inherent, ontological properties of logic within them? That takes a lot of faith in blind chance, in my opinion.

    You are correct that I am shifting the burden of proof to you, because you have made this assertion, but I find it difficult to believe.

    When I ask how an idea can be material, I mean its ontology–its make-up and its essence. Ideas cannot be grasped with the hand. Material things are things which are suspended into space, therefore an idea, or a law is immaterial. I’ve stated that the material”ness” of the laws of logic is an impossibility because then each individual person would have their own unique sets of laws. But we operate w/ the laws of logic as if they are universal, and not relative to individual persons.

    Sincerely
    Chris

  12. Francois Tremblay August 8, 2008 at 17:04

    “If they are material properties, then we have to assume that every sentient being (humans, animals) operates with the same properties that are inherent to their natures. How can this be? If the universe is a closed system, impersonal and blind (as it were) then how can each and every human have the inherent, ontological properties of logic within them? That takes a lot of faith in blind chance, in my opinion.”

    We all have the same logical properties because we all exist. Everything that is part of the universe, necessarily exists. I don’t know why you find that surprising: we shouldn’t expect to observe things that don’t exist, except when other people express the ideas of such things, in which case we can show how they are illogical.

    “You are correct that I am shifting the burden of proof to you, because you have made this assertion, but I find it difficult to believe.”

    The only assertion I have made is that the universality of nature holds. This is an inherently materialist position, certainly not a Biblical position. I’d say you’re the one who’s making the worse assertion: that you can make sense of anything while still believing in a God that breaks material causality.

    “I’ve stated that the material”ness” of the laws of logic is an impossibility because then each individual person would have their own unique sets of laws. But we operate w/ the laws of logic as if they are universal, and not relative to individual persons.”

    You are once again confusing the laws as they are formulated with our minds with the actual reality of how things exist. Yes, we may each have a different understanding of logic (and in a trivial sense we do), but we can judge this understanding based on how things actually exist in reality.

  13. chris van allsburg August 8, 2008 at 21:31

    Ok, maybe i’m misunderstanding your concept of materialism. Some materialists allow for non-material things. Do you?

  14. chris van allsburg August 8, 2008 at 21:37

    Also, please explain what you mean when you say the biblical god breaks material causality.

    “We all have the same logical properties because we all exist.”

    Why is this so? How does existence necessitate having logical properties that are congruent with all sentient beings?

    This is an assertion, and you haven’t proven it.

    Yours,
    Chris

  15. Francois Tremblay August 9, 2008 at 02:40

    “Ok, maybe i’m misunderstanding your concept of materialism. Some materialists allow for non-material things. Do you?”

    No.

    “Also, please explain what you mean when you say the biblical god breaks material causality.”

    Anything a god does, including “creating the universe,” is necessarily a break in material causality. If you claim that the Bible is correct in saying that God stopped the rotation of Earth for a few hours, you’re claiming that the fact of angular momentum has been broken for those few hours by God.

    “Why is this so? How does existence necessitate having logical properties that are congruent with all sentient beings?”

    I don’t understand the question. Can you clarify?

  16. chris van allsburg August 9, 2008 at 15:40

    i just posted but lost it. i’ll write again later.

  17. chris van allsburg August 10, 2008 at 20:41

    “How does existence necessitate having logical properties that are congruent will all sentient beings”?

    What I mean by this is that you made the assertion that “we all have the same logical properties because we all exist.”

    Your assertion is that our existence (the fact that we all exist) makes necessary that all humans everywhere for all time all have the same logical properties. By “congruent with all sentient beings” I mean that these ‘logical properties’ are universally held by and inherent in all humans (sentient beings)–according to your assertion.

    Is that provable, or just an assertion?

    Yours,
    Chris

  18. Francois Tremblay August 10, 2008 at 21:37

    “Your assertion is that our existence (the fact that we all exist) makes necessary that all humans everywhere for all time all have the same logical properties. By “congruent with all sentient beings” I mean that these ‘logical properties’ are universally held by and inherent in all humans (sentient beings)–according to your assertion.

    Is that provable, or just an assertion?”

    First you talk about existence necessitating logical properties, and then you talk about properties *held by* humans. These are two different issues. Which one do you want to talk about?

    You are being somewhat confusing. Can you maybe give me your own perspective on the issue so I know what you’re thinking about?

  19. chris van allsburg August 11, 2008 at 23:16

    inherent properties. same thing. i was exegeting my question to you, the one you didn’t understand.

    yours,
    chris

  20. Francois Tremblay August 12, 2008 at 03:19

    Okay, but I still need to understand the question. I don’t understand it, which is why I am asking you to clarify. I understand that we are talking about the inherent property of following the laws of logic, but I don’t understand the nature of your “how” question.

  21. Jesse August 12, 2008 at 14:25

    I stumbled across your site somewhat accidentally, but I have a couple of questions.

    First, “Once you accept that God is omnipotent, the only consistent course of action is to systematically cast anxiety on all the laws of nature and psychology.”

    I’m not sure I follow how this systematic anxiety follows from God’s omnipotence. Could you elaborate?

    Second, “More simply, no epistemology can hold in the Christian worldview, because the worldview by definition excludes the possibility of knowing anything with any certainty whatsoever.”

    Why does an epistemology have to rest on certainty? How can there be certainty exist in a purely materialistic universe?

    Didn’t David Hume already teach us that there is no contradiction in saying “The sun will not rise tomorrow”? How can we know anything if we can’t be certain that the sun is going to rise tomorrow? (And I fully understand that the sun doesn’t really rise, but I hope you will allow the use of the idiom.)

    Best wishes,
    Jesse

  22. chris van allsburg August 12, 2008 at 16:31

    You said,

    “We all have the same logical properties because we all exist.”

    I asked,

    Why is this so? How does existence necessitate having logical properties that are congruent with all sentient beings?

    This is the original question. I’m asking you to defend your statement. how does our existence make necessary the we all share the same properties in our brains? How do you know that we all share in this same, grand uniformity? How do you know that we all have the same laws of logic in our brains? We are all individuals, yet somehow, you assert that we all have these properties in our brains that you call the laws of logic. How, since we are all different, do we all have the same, exact laws as chemical properties within us? What is the unifying factor?

    thanks,
    chris

  23. Francois Tremblay August 12, 2008 at 23:56

    “I’m not sure I follow how this systematic anxiety follows from God’s omnipotence. Could you elaborate?”

    Well, I think I mentioned this before. The argument is basically this: if you live in a world where any law of nature may be suspended or overturned by a non-material agency, then there is no fundamental grounds to believe anything. You may believe something to be true on pragmatic or statistical grounds, but induction cannot hold. For instance, you cannot say that “the Sun will rise tomorrow” is fundamentally sound, because it may be (and in the Bible, was) suspended.

    “Why does an epistemology have to rest on certainty? How can there be certainty exist in a purely materialistic universe?”

    I said “any certainty,” implying degrees. I do admit that the word was badly chosen, and for this I apologize.

    “Didn’t David Hume already teach us that there is no contradiction in saying “The sun will not rise tomorrow”? How can we know anything if we can’t be certain that the sun is going to rise tomorrow?”

    Certainty is not necessary in such a case. I do not need to know for certain that the sun is going to rise in order to know anything. In fact, I don’t see what the sun rising or not has to do with any other knowledge (except of course that related to days or astronomy).

  24. Francois Tremblay August 12, 2008 at 23:58

    Chris, you seem to have confused the laws of logic and the concepts of logic in our brains again. My statement “We all have the same logical properties because we all exist” does not pertain at all to the concepts in our minds.

  25. Jesse August 13, 2008 at 20:21

    Francois–

    Thanks for your responses.

    Some thoughts: First, what do you see as the requirements for knowledge in a general sense? Second, what exactly do you mean by a “Christian epistemology”? Is that short-hand, as it were, for “religious knowledge?” I am concluding that you would affirm these claims:

    a. The only reason that Christians know anything is that they (consciously or not) abandon their worldview and accept a non-theistic one.

    b. Whatever the requirements for knowledge in general are, those same requirements would apply to religious knowledge.

    c. Religious knowledge, by the nature of its subject area, could never fulfill the requirements of knowledge.

    d. Therefore, religious knowledge is a failed venture from the beginning.

    I have thoughts on the other subject I mentioned, but I am very interested in this matter of knowledge. I hope you don’t mind.

    Best,
    Jesse

  26. Francois Tremblay August 13, 2008 at 20:33

    “Some thoughts: First, what do you see as the requirements for knowledge in a general sense?”

    From the part of who or what? If you mean from the part of the knower, I would say things like: a mind capable of grasping reality, the faculty of reason, the desire to grasp reality and to use reason, the conceptualization and education necessary to formulate thoughts, things of that nature.

    “Second, what exactly do you mean by a “Christian epistemology”? Is that short-hand, as it were, for “religious knowledge?””

    I am referring to a specifically Christian analysis of the acquisition of knowledge, most specifically presuppositionalism, which states that knowledge presupposes the existence of God.

    “I am concluding that you would affirm these claims:

    a. The only reason that Christians know anything is that they (consciously or not) abandon their worldview and accept a non-theistic one.”

    I agree.

    “b. Whatever the requirements for knowledge in general are, those same requirements would apply to religious knowledge.”

    If by this you mean knowledge of religious things, then I may agree, depending on how you define religious.

    “c. Religious knowledge, by the nature of its subject area, could never fulfill the requirements of knowledge.”

    Same as previous.

    “d. Therefore, religious knowledge is a failed venture from the beginning.”

    Same as previous.

    “I have thoughts on the other subject I mentioned, but I am very interested in this matter of knowledge. I hope you don’t mind.”

    I would like to hear more of your thoughts on the subject, as well as how you define “religious.”

  27. chris van allsburg August 13, 2008 at 22:17

    Francois,
    How are the laws of logic different from the concepts of logic in our brains, as you say?

    And, I’d still like you to explain the original statement, “We all have the same logical properties because we all exist.” You still haven’t defended this statement of assertionism.
    In fact, I’m not sure your statement even makes sense. Please explain and defend it.

    Yours,
    Chris

  28. Francois Tremblay August 13, 2008 at 22:19

    What’s the point of discussing a conceptual issue if you can’t make the difference between an instance of a concept and the concept itself?

  29. chris van allsburg August 13, 2008 at 22:21

    Especially, if the concepts of logic in our brains are different from the laws of logic, then are you saying that the two things are located in different spheres? If so, then the laws of logic are not, indeed, chemical, material products of our brains. On your view, the laws of logica would have to be something outside the brain, while the concepts of logic would be a part of the brain. But if you don’t believe in non-material entities, how can you affirm that the laws of logic are different from the concepts of logic (the ones in our brains)?

  30. Francois Tremblay August 13, 2008 at 22:22

    See previous post.

  31. chris van allsburg August 13, 2008 at 22:22

    Especially, if the concepts of logic in our brains are different from the laws of logic, then are you saying that the two things are located in different spheres? If so, then the laws of logic are not, indeed, chemical, material products of our brains. On your view, the laws of logica would have to be something outside the brain, while the concepts of logic would be a part of the brain. But if you don’t believe in non-material entities, how can you affirm that the laws of logic are different from the concepts of logic (the ones in our brains)?

    aas;ldkfja;sdfjopisupoeijsdfj

  32. chris van allsburg August 13, 2008 at 22:23

    (computer wouldn’t let me post the 2nd one unless i put gibberish down. sorry).

  33. chris van allsburg August 13, 2008 at 22:26

    well now i’ve gone up and messed up your blog. sorry dude.

  34. Francois Tremblay August 13, 2008 at 22:27

    *shrugs*

  35. chris van allsburg August 13, 2008 at 22:37

    many epistemologists do not believe there is a difference between the conception of a thing and the thing itself, “das ding in sich.” even so, with such a dichotomy, you presuppose that a concept of a thing and an instance of a thing are two, separate things.

    So, you would say the thing itself is a material entity, but the concept is also a material entity. All I’m doing is asking you to explain how this can be so. If I observe a tree, I experience 2 things on your view: the tree itself, and the concept of the tree. Am I therefore experiencing two material entities at the same time? There is the tree, a material thing, and there are (on your view) the chemicals in my brain enabling a concept of the tree, but that doesn’t require that the actual concept produced by the chemicals is material. This conception of epistemolical observation in no way negates the idea that conceptual schemes are only material.

  36. Francois Tremblay August 13, 2008 at 22:42

    So far so good…

  37. Jesse August 17, 2008 at 21:07

    Sorry that it has taken so long to respond.

    I think what I wanted to ask about knowledge is how you would define “knowledge.”

    And here are some first thoughts concerning “religious” knowledge. Obviously, I’m concentrating on Western Christianity; I don’t know very much about the Eastern branch of Christianity.

    Maybe distinct types of “religious” knowledge can be divided into these broad catergories:

    a. Statements about God (e.g., God created the world, God chose Abraham to be the father of the Jewish nation, God sent Jesus to the perfect sacrifice for sin, Jesus is divine).

    b. Statements about what Christians believe (e.g., Christians believe that God created the world, etc.)

    c. Statements about the history of Christianity (e.g., Augustine was bishop of Hippo, Aquinas wrote the _Summa Theologica_, Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus). You may not include this as “religious” knowledge–and I’m not really convinced either.

    I am inclined to define “religious” to focus on a system of first principles, so I would focus on the first group as “religious knowledge” proper. The other groups are secondary and tertiary (in the order I grouped them).

    I hope this is helpful (though admittedly deficient). I will write more as I am able.

    Thanks,
    jesse

  38. Francois Tremblay August 18, 2008 at 00:09

    That sounds reasonable.

  39. rob June 29, 2009 at 10:53

    The apparent relationship between cause and effect that humans ‘observe’ is only apparent. The knife when taken to a loaf of bread cuts..cause and effect, these tend to apply generally all the time. See occasionalism.

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