Epistemological neutrality is a myth. That’s just a fancy way of saying, we don’t know what the hell we’re talking about due to our blindness of bias. Biases that drag us along and enslave us in a secret imbalance, prejudice of thinking that we are unaware of deep within. Yes, we communicate, debate, analyze, decide, etc., but that’s all just on one level. There’s an entire world of reality we are missing.
We all come to the debate committed to our pre-commitments and we go from there. There is no pure mental objectivity. Period. It is hard enough to get out of one’s self physically, (though I suppose in some abstract way it can be done) but to get out of one’s self mentally, to get on the other side of the fence, to lay down self completely on the most essential level, is impossible.
And who after all, will then judge or determine that our effort on pure objectivity has been successful? Those who likewise have not been able to leave their own skin?
Excuse me if I bow out…
So we are slaves to our pre commitments about truth and existence. The sooner we admit the case, the sooner we can get on with the debate.
Left standing there, alone with no objectivity, we can only then do our best to perceive, analyze and seek to live with the results.
Pause for a deep breath at this point. Then…
Swirling about us is this universe, full of transcendent realities like the laws of logic, mathematics, ethical self-consciousness, etc. Observation seems to say the universe makes a lot more sense in a theistic rather than atheistic framework, but then, I am biased. Right?
It’s called circular reasoning and we ALL do it, even Stephen Hawking (for those who would deify scientific investigation). The merry-go-round has no “off” button.
But when the debater argues his point using logical syllogisms, when the mathematician uses calculation, when the scientist uses reason in empirical analysis, they are all employing a near consensual set of established rules in their various disciplines – rules without which knowledge would be impossible. When the atheist uses these tools, things woven intricately into the fabric of reality, he is actually begging the question though he cannot see it. It’s called “science”. But at the end of a hard day at the lab, he too must remove his coat and live with himself.
Scary thought. He pulses with transcendent things pushing at him, from way deep within. If he fails to admit it, he lives and will die a deluded, myopic self-contradiction, externally committed to his naturalistic worldview, all the while aching for resonance deep within, resonance with that which he has been paid to deny.
So whence come these “rules”, these “laws” by which universal transcendent abstract realities all tend to submit? Has culture, given us these law-like entities? Are they merely conventional, laws generated over time by shifting vicissitudes of man?
Or are we not surrounded, perhaps even collectively infused with a compass that recognizes (albeit imperfectly) a transcendence in these universal law-like abstract realities?
Paul said all this to the Athenians in Acts chapter 17. But he was succinct whereas I am wordy.
The citizens of the classical world had no tv or video games. So they mused in a public arena giving a man of extraordinary insight like Paul an opportunity to explain among other things, their own pre-commitments.
Fact is, we are all following the premonitions of deep within – our pre-commitments. Are we willing to admit them, and get on with the debate? Or should we just turn up the tv and get on with whatever it is we call “life”?
If so, we can explore the viability or cogency of our pre commitments.
If not, the debate is over. All else is for the purpose of entertainment. Then we die.
“To the unknown god…In him we live and move and have our being” Acts 17:22-28