Last night, after a brief reading of Gordon Clark on John Locke, I became troubled by the ongoing battle between rationalism (all knowledge is derived from reason prior to experience) and empiricism (all knowledge is derived from experience with reason following). In the history of philosophy there exists a great divide between these two schools as well as an abundance of attempts to solve the problem of their relationship (with Kant as the most staggering example) from the position of subject and object.
Surprisingly, our Christian pre-commitments about the scope of both reason and experience, as subordinate to the nature and character of God, make an incredible stand in resolving the problem. Scientific observation can yield a limited probability among particulars, reason can deduce (or attempt to) fundamental unities, but both seem to fail where the other picks up. What now? Well, for starters, a system is needed that makes sense out of both logical ‘laws’ and ‘observed’ experience, the assumptions of both, that anything can be known and that the nature of the external world is uniform. Although hardly a man alive lives with such skepticism as to doubt it, one might rightly argue that apart from revelation any certainty beyond the immediate finite subject is impossible. This is why I love Nietzsche’s words, ‘that the concept of God would serve as utterly useless to us were we not in need of grammar.’