Mikal and the fractal ad infinitum

Yesterday I had a heated gmail-chat debate with my good buddy Mikal. I love him. He always has some new crazy idea based on the latest science/physics/theory to bat around. His questions are good, and I do not plan on dealing with them here…but rather offereing a shout out to Van Til and G. H. Clark (two mad-hatters of the presuppositional apologetic).

Whence Mikal and I began to talk he started throwing out 10,000 supposed biblical inconsistencies. Fine, my worldivew can handle that. There is a cogent answer depending on how we interpret these ‘facts.’ His response on the offense was to demonstrate the need for an ‘unmoved mover’ but show that revelation is impossible because truth is subjective…humans are just too finite to get any REAL truth. So what is real Mikal? Are your mathmatical laws real? Or are they merely conventions concieved by men for the sake of averiging out probabilities and assuming uniformity. Of course science is unifrom, math is real, and both are practically helpful…but can your worldview account for their universal invariant nature?

This was where we ended…not with the age of the earth, egyptian myths, or einstein, but can your worldview account, not just count up, for the very precondictions of the knowledge you expouse? To quote a book I just finished (we all know that means I read most of it) by Clark,  A Christian View of Men and Things, “The important contrast is not between Faith and Knowledge, but between Truth and Error.”

Thus we resume with the power of a true object, God, as our standard, perfect in nature, essence, and character, necessary as a being, and able to account for why laws actually act law like. The best part is, you need not be a pseudo-philosopher to use the method, just ask questions, dig deep, and point out the subjectivity/skepticism/irrationalism of other worldviews as they expose themselves as arbitrary.

I wonder if you guys have any cool stories about the power of God’s word and truth in argument? The greatest testimony to all of this ‘taking the roof off’ is that it can be done in patient love.

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3 responses to “Mikal and the fractal ad infinitum

  1. I was explaining election and predestination to Steve-o, Jen’s little brother, and he started telling me about an atheist friend of his who was an atheist because religion is the cause of all wars fought (parent’s opinion glaring through). I asked him what he thought about that, and helped him come to the conclusion that pretty much every war fought post enlightenment has been political in nature, and that even those friggin’ crusades, the bane of Christianity in Europe, was a result of mixing church and state. He had a conversation with his friend later, and that kid is gonna go to church with Steve-o when basketball season is over. God willing, that little boys roof will be taken off, and God willing it will be replaced with a ceiling that goes as high as the love of Christ (that would be an infinite ceiling, booyah). Presuppositional epistemology, we salute you!

  2. ha, amen…and I love how this method, e.g. the biblical one, can occur through the humble act of asking questions and listening…then responding with even more good questions driving at what the ‘opponent,’ or shall we say friend, considers to be the foundation of their thinking. As John Frame says, the Transcendental Argument for God’s existence is not a silver bullet…only the Holy Spirit can kill vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein in a single blow, BUT, it can really help to expose the irrationality of an atheist universe. To quote Bahnsen, “So tell me Dr. Stein, how IS it possible to have universal, invariant, absolute laws in an atheist universe…”

  3. C.S. Lewis has a good point in his The Discarded Image about this sort of ‘knowledge’. After admitting that the Medieval Model of the universe was “not true,” he says,

    “I would like to end by saying that this charge can no longer have exactly the same sort of weight for us that it would have had in the 19th century…[T]he meaning of the words ‘know and ‘truth’ in this context has begun to undergo a certain change. [Back then] we still held the belief that by inferences from our sense-experience we could ‘know’ the ultimate physical reality more or less as, by maps, pictures, and books, a man can ‘know’ a country he has not visited; and that in both cases the ‘truth’ would be a sort of mental replica of the thing itself…. Already, to be sure, mathematics were the idiom in which many of the sciences spoke. But I do not think it was doubted that there was a concrete reality about which the mathematics held good; distinguishable from the mathematics as a heap of apples is from the process of counting them. … We should then have through mathematics a knowledge not merely mathematical. We should be like the man coming to know about a foreign country without visiting it. He learns about the mountains from carefully studying the contour lines on a map. But his knowledge is not a knowledge of contour lines. The real knowledge is achieved when these enable him to say ‘That would be an easy ascent’, ‘This is a dangerous precipice’, ‘A would not be visible from B’. In going beyond the contour lines to such conclusions he is (if he knows how to read a map) getting nearer to the reality. It would be very different if someone said to him ‘But it is the contour lines themselves that are the fullest reality you can get. In turning away from them to these other statements you are getting further from the reality, not nearer. All those ideas about “real” rocks and slopes and views are merely a metaphor or a parable; a pis aller, permissible as a concession to the weakness of those who can’t understand contour lines, but misleading if they are taken literally.’ …
    It would therefore be subtly misleading to say ‘The medievals thought the universe to be like that, but we know it to be like this.’ Part of what we now know is that we cannot, in the old sense, ‘know what the universe is like’ and that no model we can build will be, in that old sense, ‘like’ it.

    All this to say, while the Medievals got some math and stuff wrong, at least their model got them closer to and delighting in God’s creation—ours does the opposite. (Has this comment been one of those “Big Gulps, huh? Alright, see ya.” moments?)

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