“Epistemology issues” (5)

The following is an excerpt from Gordon H. Clark’s, An Introduction to Christian Philosophy:

==1. Epistemology

In the popular mind philosophy is often considered as a general theory of the universe. It is expected to say whether the world is material or spiritual or both. Hence the terms Materialism, Idealism, and Dualism come to mind. Discussions of these topics are called metaphysics, and for many philosophers metaphysics has been the fundamental subject. Metaphysics and philosophy have been virtually identified. But before any type of metaphysics can be accepted, another far more crucial question must be asked and answered. After someone asserts that the universe is nothing but atoms in motion, or that the universe is an Absolute Mind, or even that planets revolve around the sun, we may properly ask, How do you know? A theory that tries to explain how knowledge is possible is called an epistemological theory. This is where we must begin” (pp. 26-27). ==

Chris: I think one way to see if an epistemological theory is bankrupt is if it self-destructs when self-applied (i.e., is self-refuting). Clark said that there are a multitude of secular theories regarding epistemology but if one holds to a Materialistic worldview (metaphysics) then how is it possible for mere atoms to acquire knowledge? From what I can tell from Scripture, knowledge is possible because humans are created in God’s image and in Him they live and move and have their being (Acts 17).

The view that all knowledge is conveyed through the senses is easily dispensed with and Clark’s view (as far as I can tell) that all knowledge is innate is dispensed with just as easily.

From the relevant Romans passages we see that there is knowledge that has nothing to do with sensory experience; it is exclusively innate.

I am unaware of knowledge that would be exclusively derived from sensory experience since from Scripture we see that God has endowed man with an innate capacity to reason, understand, learn, etc. In other words, man posses “a priori equipment” (i.e., his spirit; the image of God) for learning.

Thus, it appears that while you can have knowledge that is derived from the “innate equipment” independent of the senses; you cannot have knowledge derived from the senses independent or apart from this innate equipment.

Well, that’s my best shot at coming up with a Biblical theory of “how knowledge is possible” and “how do I know?” Men like Robbins and Clark want to say: “How do I know? Because the Bible tells me so.” But the problem with that is their epistemology will not allow for them to know for certain that that black ink printed on a bunch of white paper is the Word of God.