Yesterday, I did some commenting on a post by Paul Manata entitled “Do All Men Know that God Exists?“.
In this post, he offers a couple possible responses he would consider Van Tillians to potentially offer, tells us he’s an “attenuated” Van Tillian (which is unsurprising, at best); we interacted in the comments for a bit, (complete with his typical ad hominem) and he returns today with a bit of screed, venting about Van Tillians. His problem, apparently, seems to be my “certainty”. Far be it from me to point out that he acts anything but uncertain, but I’m forced to wonder why he finds certainty to be so problematic.
First, I’m wondering if his “attentuation” of Van Til includes this:
“Man does not need to know exhaustively in order to know truly and certainly. When on the created level of existence man thinks God’s thoughts after him, that is, when man thinks in self-conscious submission to the voluntary revelation of the self-sufficient God, he has therewith the only possible ground of certainty for knowledge for his knowledge.” 
If he’d like to assert that this is only talking about an epistemologically certain basis, and not about our knowledge, I’d just like to point out that Van Til says “As God has self-contained being and all other being has created or derivative being, so also God has self-contained and man has derivative knowledge. In contrast with this all forms of non-Christian epistemology speak first of knowledge in general and introduce the distinction between human and divine knowledge afterwards.”
Further; “…this can be maintained only if the very idea of authority as orthodox Christianity conceives of it on the basis of the Creator-creature distinction has first been discarded. If this distinction is maintained there can be no such dialectical relationship between the hidden and the revealed character of God. In that case God cannot, to be sure, ever reveal himself exhaustively. The mind of man is finite and knows only by thinking God’s thoughts after him. But what it knows it then knows truly. It has at its disposal the revelation of God. This revelation does not hide God while it reveals him; it reveals him truly, though not exhaustively.” Van Til doesn’t dodge the question – he hits it head on. Only Scripture provides necessity, perspicuity, sufficiency, and authority.
So, let’s examine his recent offering, along with his initial one, and see whether it’s accurate and applicable; or whether it is “attenuated” as much as his “VanTillianism” is. Given I’m responding, essentially, to two posts + comments, this post won’t be attentuated
Usually, these discussion don’t get anywhere. As Razor Kiss himself said, he’s “certain” he’s right.
Usually, discussions with these nuevo-Vantillians don’t get anywhere. As Paul himself said about me; I’m an “ostensible” “hard-core Van Tillian”, “it doesn’t take much for [me] to be ‘certain’ about matters”, “this discussion will probably be pointless” – after all, I’m “simply not prepared to have the discussion,” “perhaps… in belief-preservation mode,” “totally unresponsive,” I “want to see (presuppositionalism) chained to the basement,” “never bothered to understand” his post, mockingly claims I’m “Dr. Razor Kiss” (misspelling my name, yet again, as he does in the title of his latest post…), “right-wing Van Tillian”, “par for the Van Tillian course” – of course – and after all, I’m just a “Van Tillian epologoist.” But hey – I’m probably just “overreacting”, in my “knee-jerk response.” Not to mention, apparently, I “now admit [I] totally overreacted.” Small world. Here I thought we weren’t to be certain. Far be it from me to point out inconsistency… besides, after all, I can’t be “lecturing” on the history of epistemology when you, of course, can do it instead directly after – can I? But I digress. (Cue muttering about pots, kettles.)
This puts a damper on any positive discussion to be had. In fact, it’s pretty much means-end irrational for me to respond to someone with this attitude.
Yeah. Yet you do. Better make certain that your lack of certainty is kept unsullied that attitude of certainty. Just take potshots instead.
Van Tillian epologists…
I see what you mean. You do write for Triablogue, after all. What would you call that title, incidentally? Attenuated VanTillian epologist?
…make debates hard because they are certain they are right
I would have to agree. Debates with folks who are certain they’re wrong, or uncertain they are right or wrong would be fairly quick affairs.
…they are certain that no one could argue with them unless they presupposed the Van Tillians were right
Well, you know what Bahnsen said. Learn to dodge bullets, or learn to take away the gun. But really, Paul, we both know this is a strawman in the context you intend it. I’m sure you get a lot of rhetorical mileage out of it, but it’s really just dancing down the yellow brick road with you, singing showtunes.
…and they are certain that all who disagree with them are bent on defending and protecting the sinful attitude of intellectual autonomy, so interlocutors are viewed as motivated to argue by love of sin
I think you’ve watched *WAY* too much Red Beetle. As in, so much that you need an intervention. Of course, hes Clarkian – but you haven’t bothered to be accurate so far – why start now? I mean, really Paul. Any Van Tillian worth his salt will go directly to the passages Van Til writes about that express the fact that what is in view is inconsistency, not necessarily “love of” sin. For all I know, it could be ignorance. I’m really not interested anymore by now, as it seems we have to wade through insults by the gallon to get a response from you. Be that as it may, I’m far less interested in your autobiographical depiction of “Van Tillians” than I am with giving an accurate picture of what Van Til actually says. Hence, you know, Van Tillian. Whether or not your impression of Van Tillians is the case, what on earth does that have to do with the principles of the matter? If it is the case, they are guilty of obscurantist arrogance, or as VT calls it, being worse than their principles. It is still autobiographical in nature, and has nothing to do with the merits of the system.
Not only that, Van Tillian epologists
Sure, Paul. Tell you what, I’ll just call you “the attentuated VanTillian epologist” from now on, just to be consistent.
…claim that Van Til’s position was exclusivist and utterly unique
Well, it was exclusivist. Unique? Not so much. He doesn’t argue that, I don’t argue that. Unique as in putting it all together systematically? Only partially. Wouldn’t want to bore his little eyeballs with a lot of text, though. We Van Tillian Epologists (as opposed to Attenuated Van Tillian Epologists) have to keep our reputation for brevity.
…such that any “non-Christian” position cannot be attribute to Van Til’s view.
The best I can say for this is that it’s unintentionally correct.
Thus they argue that TAG is not a deductive argument, it’s an utterly unique argument.
Yes, that’s totally crazy – given both Van Til AND Bahnsen say the same. Just madness! Let’s not bother with logic needing a transcendental foundation, or anything. Let’s just assert assertions assertively until the rhetoric sticks, shall we?
They argue that man is not a dualism, he’s an utterly unique thing
Yes, let’s just simplify it down monumentally to utterly ignore the context of any such claims, not bother to cite where this is supposedly coming from. Let’s just make a naked assertion, and not bother to examine anything about it. Good idea. Let’s.
…they argue that Van Til wasn’t foundationalist, coherentist, internalist, or externalist, he was some utterly unique thing.
The Attentuated Van Tillian Epologist makes the assertions that Van Til was (“apparently”, so as not to be considered one of those certain people, for land’s sake!) an internalist, and let’s just not consider historical conceptions, or even Van Til’s own position. Tension is such an equalizer – and so is lack of source material. Inconvenience is such a bother, after all, and it’s so much more convenient to make bare assertions, or second-hand claims.
Thus Van Til transcends all distinctions, which, while making for a bear of a time to try and understand his view, also conveniently isolates him from any criticism!
Or, maybe, just maybe the Attentuated Van Tillian Epologist isn’t extending the same courtesy in this case that he extends to Plantinga with his (more or less) novel conception of warrant. Oh, and doesn’t bother to cite or respond to Van Til. But let’s not sweat the little things. We shouldn’t be certain about this, after all. Attentuate the differences.
As for the argument in his initial post, what he presents is fairly straightforward; if rather biased, anachronistic, and not particularly compelling.
 The two positions to take on justification or warrant are, broadly, either internalist or externalist.
But  “as it stands, is vague. Almost all sides could agree with  as stated, though they would also disagree with each other as to what  means.”
Does that about size it up? I thought so. Don’t get certain about your position, though. I wouldn’t want to have to get ends/means irrational to respond.
But seriously, your consistency and/or precision here aside – why are you saying that it’s an either/or proposition here, even “broadly”? You seem to be saying that this is a dilemma – but it’s only a dilemma if there is not an alternative to your presentation of “internalism/externalism” as the sole options. My response indicated that I don’t accept that to be the case. Further, I said that this would be anachronistic if applied to Van Til, given that he generally predates that debate. Your response of today smacks of sensationalism. Are you really trying to suggest that because modern philosophers apply their own categories to ancient philosophers that their categories are de facto the only available options by which other philosophers can be categorized? Really?
For instance, you say:
“Apparently Van Til held to an “analogical epistemology.” Which means he wasn’t an internalist? How, exactly?
For much the same reason a Thomist isn’t an Arminian. Hold on, chaining presup to the basement. brb.
Okay, that’s taken care of. Moving on.
Another one is that Van Til was on the scene before Gettier and was part of an older school of epistemology. And this means he wasn’t an internalist, how, exactly? Many have noted that the likes of Plato, Descartes, & co. were internalists, and if Van Til was pre-Gettier, then they were (if I’ve done my math right).
Okay, let me say this really slowly, so your “defensive” doesn’t kick in all at once. You did do your math right, by the by. Just giving you some feedback. I’m listening over here. Just because some folks categorize the old school blokes by some modern schema doesn’t make it so. Getting that? For instance, just because I call Pelagius an Arminian doesn’t make him an Arminian. He’s still a Pelagian, in the context of his own statements concerning his doctrine. They differ from those of Arminianism, and have unique features not accounted for by Arminianism. In short, it’s not Arminianism. I don’t care how many cage stage “Attentuated Arminians” say so – it’s just not the case. Further – saying that it is the case, just more loudly and more frequently, does not demonstrate your assertion either. Arguments from “apparently” don’t cut the mustard. General vague citations don’t cut the mustard either. Ignoring the context of the things I cite doesn’t cut the mustard either.
For instance, Sudduth.
“Hence, it is possible that while Van Til’s meta-epistemology is logically consistent with Plantinga’s (indeed both may be versions of modest foundationalism), an incompatibility emerges at the substantive level. For instance, was Van Til an internalist or an externalist? Did he think that knowledge required the satisfaction of a deontological constraint or not? (Or can we say how he *would* come down on these questions if informed about them?).
Note the context. Was Van Til – Did he think – can we say how he – if informed – what is Sudduth saying, my Attenuated Van Tillian Epologist friend?
“I suspect that part of the problem in sorting all this out is that Van Til was writing before the widespread popularity of the justified true belief account of knowledge (and post-Gettier variations thereof). 19th and early 20th century theories of knowledge tend toward what Alston has called the *intuitive conception* of knowledge, roughly, that knowledge is either a direct presentation of an object to consciousness and whatever we can deduce from such presentations. This is clearly foundationalist in nature, but such theories do not restrict their attention to propositional knowledge, but also include knowledge by acquintance. Hence, we’re dealing here with a different sort of animal than the staple of most contemporary analytic philosophers.”
Now, as fond as I believe you are of analytic philosophy, I think that you didn’t read this section with sufficient care. You’re saying Sudduth says, merely, that presup has flexible views. You then cited precisely what I did above – and come to an entirely different conclusion than I do. I wonder why this is, my Attenuated Van Trillian Epologist friend? Sudduth doesn’t say he is either one – mentions foundationalism in passing, but brings out that Van Til wasn’t informed about either one. I don’t care what you are arbitrarily calling him, or who else calls who else what – because it makes about as much sense as any other anachronistic category you try to shoehorn a Gill or Turretin into. It’s all hypothetical, using modern terms shoehorned onto historical categories. I’m sorry, but the point is simply that Van Til is being *considered* – by whoever’s categories, not his own – as vaguely internalist or externalist – which are categories foreign to his context. He *isn’t*, in fact. It would be just as feasible to ask whether Athanasius took Owen’s view on double jeopardy – and just as useless. Or as useless as mapping the precisions of modern epistemology onto Paul in Romans 1, maybe? Oh, yeah. On the contrary, Van Til goes to great pains to be extremely systematic in his method of how we are to govern philosophy by theology – including epistemology. Whether you consider this to be persuasive – or even true – or not really isn’t anything more than autobiographical, given your conception of certainty – is it?
Now, to respond to your “popularist” argument: Dude, who are you kidding about popular. Are you seriously trying to tell me that “Van Tillianism” is “popular” out there? You don’t specify anyone in particular. You don’t even state “their” supposed claim. You call it “Van Tillianism”. I’m about as run-of-the-mill a VTer as there is. There’s nothing special about me. Your argument doesn’t apply to me. I can’t even think of who it would apply to. You don’t tell us. Its just tossed out there, with no definition as to what you’re talking about, re: Van Tillianism. Later, you try to clarify this, but I can’t exactly be faulted for objecting on the grounds of… Van Til… can I? Apparently, this is the case for you. So, it’s the “popular kids” your argument applies to? Wouldn’t you be one of the popular kids? You, Hays, Frame? Anderson? Don’t most of them agree with you already? It’s not like the airwaves are burning up with Van Til in the first place. However, you’re trying to turn a long-standing doctrine (which you admit is supported by a good many commentators, incidentally; and we could go back and forth- on their basis – on what is meant by the knowledge of God a long time) upside down on the grounds of your preferred philosophical movement’s terms. Van Til and Bahnsen do, in fact, argue for their presented conception of the knowledge of God – and you don’t deal very much with it. The most significant problem for this, however, is that you tell us on one hand not to press modern epistemology onto Romans 1; but on the other hand, make an argument from modern epistemological terms there is some dilemma involved in the conception Van Til presents. You, as an “Attentuated Van Tillian” do precisely what you tell Van Tillians not to do, for precisely the reasons you say not to do them.
Another objection by RK is that it’d be anachronistic to ask whether Van Til held to JTB or was internalist or externalist. He makes the claim that these things are 30 or 40 years old! I’ll just let that simmer.
So, are you saying Sudduth is wrong as I quoted above, or not? I’ll just let that simmer.
Anyway, it’s not anachronistic.
Yes it is. Same way it’s anachronistic to call John Gill a fundamentalist.
Sure, older epistemologists had other concerns and didn’t situate matters the way analytics would…
Oh, so I’m right. Thanks for admitting it, finally.
This. Is. The. Point. Speculating is all you’re doing, and it’s actually anachronistic to apply terms backwards like you, and apparently your favorite philosophers are doing. Please examine the point I’m making about anachronistic theology, and the parallel it has with this. I actually have an article planned on Van Til’s epistemology, so you’ll just have to wait on it – but it’s NOT like it’s that hard to quote the dude, given how much he wrote on the subject. Seriously. At least try? A little? Show how he is, or is not an internalist. Maybe you’re all into the uncertainty thing, but those of us who would like a yes to be yes or a no to be no are still waiting. Is it the case, or is it not the case that Van Til IS an internalist? If so, please offer an argument.
…but JTB goes back to Plato…
Really? Oh, you mean modern dudes SAY it does, not that it actually was used by Plato.
…and many, many ancient philosophers have been described with such contemporary terms as “internalist,” “externalist,” “infallibilist,” etc.
That’s nice. I’ll just describe, say, Gill as “Christian Reconstructionist”. Therefore, a modern has described some old dude as something. It seems to be the case, therefore, that Gill is a Christian Reconstructionist.
Let’s just make sure we’re not too certain about that. (brb again – rechaining presup to the basement)
Seriously, now. He’s not an “internalist” for the same reason Gill isn’t a “Christian Reconstructionist”, that’s why. Or a Van Tillian. Or a Fundamentalist. Even, if you prefer, an Attentuated Van Tillian – whatever. The terms just don’t apply. He has his own context, his own body of writing which is quite capable of defining what he is all by it’s ‘ittle ‘onesome.
So his claim is simply confusing, and it doesn’t help that he argues for it by saying to go read books on epistemology and the SEP. This simply reveals he hasn’t read those things.
No, that’s most certainly (make sure you fleeeeee) not the case. Actually, buddy – pal – it reveals that you’re making incredibly surface-level objections to a system with quite a bit in print on the subject of epistemology – and you dealt with exactly none of it. To top it off, you’re using analytic terminology to describe someone who is not only a non-analytic philosopher, but who pretty much rejects any non-Christian meaning of any terminology such as that. For instance:
“Men in general do not use or even know our theological terms. But to the extent that they are educated, they have had some training in secular philosophy. They have a no-Christian familiarity with the categories of God, man, and the universe. If we are to speak to them to win them, it is necessary to speak their language…
Interestingly,VT’s footnote on that page says “When they used the term logos, must they be thought of as followers of Philo’s non-Christian thought because they used that term?” Hopefully, the relevance should be apparent, given our Attenuated Van Tillian Epologist’s shock, dismay, and mass confusion at the very idea that Van Til, horror of horrors, may actually consider himself (or, even, his followers, the dreaded right wing Van Tillians! gasp!) as other than within the typical categories of secular philosophy. That this is along with every other Christian, in principle, seems to not cross his plate, but we’ll pass over that for now, and continue.
“…we need to use the language of the philosophers. But most philosophers have no been Christians. At any rate philosophical language has to a great extent been formed under non-Christian influence. Is it not likely then that we shall, if we use the language of the philosophers, also import into the Christian scheme of things the problems of philosophy as these have been formulated by non-Christian people? … The answer is that we shall be obliged, to a large extent to use the language of the philosophers or we shall have no point of contact with them. But we shall have to be on guard to put Christian content into this language that we borrow.”
 If one is an internalist about justification or warrant, then one sets the bar of knowledge too high such that not all men could have knowledge of God because not all men have access to the adequacy of the justifying grounds of the belief under question.
Okay, great. Alternatively, we could use Van Til’s own conception of knowledge. You don’t give it, and incidentally, I don’t care what Bahnsen uses or thinks VT uses. What does Van Til say? He’s wrote a big honkin lot on it – didn’t he?
 If one is an externalist about justification or warrant, then the “no conscious believed defeater” constraint means that not all men have knowledge of God because some believe that belief in God is defeated for them, and one cannot know what they believe to be defeated.
Or, we reject the analytic terminology. So, where’s the argument, and when do you deal with Van Tillianism, instead of various “attenuations” like yours? In all seriousness – when you use the guy’s name, you have to, have to, have to deal with the guy. If you’re “attentuating”, by the nature of the case, you’re definitionally “other” by virtue of the attenuation. I’m really not concerned with what you define Van Tillianism as, because you’ve already demonstrated that it’s in your interest to “keep the tent big” so that it fits you. For whatever reason, you want the “status” of “Van Tillian” – but you define it both to exclude yourself in one sense, but include yourself in another. By leaving it vague, you leave yourself room to wiggle.
 Therefore, either one sets the bar of knowledge too high such that all men do not know that God exists, or the no conscious believed defeater constraint is such that all men do not know that God exists.
Or, you just reject the artificial analytic constructions, and wait for the argument against Van Tillianism.
 Therefore, not all men know that God exist.
He cites several sources as support: First, James Anderson:
One evident weakness of Van Til’s epistemological arguments is that he nowhere supplies an analysis of knowledge or displays much awareness of distinctions now commonplace in contemporary epistemology: foundationalism versus coherentism, justification versus warrant, overriding defeaters versus undercutting defeaters, and so on. Van Til should not be judged too harshly for this, since such epistemological niceties were not brought to prominence until near the end of his career.
Second, the NBCD constraint. He says he takes it to be the case that I say yadda yadda. He doesn’t say how he knows, just that he does. Very well. In the section he cites, I’m responding to Dominic Tennant, who says “Then how does he resolve the issue of defeaters for knowledge in unbelievers?”
The response to follow is that you don’t give them more weight than they deserve. That what is really the problem is not, as Paul and DBT state, that they “believe” there is a defeater – but that they are deceiving themselves that they believe this. So, yes, I do tell them they are lying – because the Bible says that they are lying. They 1) Suppress the truth and 2) Exchange it for a lie. Bahnsen’s paper speaks of “the unbeliever’s suppressed belief about God,” and quotes VT who says “It is against the content of faith as belief in God that man has become an unbeliever.” Further, he tells us “what is essential in self-deception is that people hold a false belief.”
So, yes, they are, in fact, lying. To God, to themselves, and to me. You can “take this to be radical in the extreme” all you want – but that’s autobiographical. “Not even claims of self-deception go this far, for they allow that people believe the propositions they are self-deceived about.” I’m sorry, what is it you call deception again? Is this really problematic? If so, why would “deception” being called “lying” be somehow an issue? cf: “When self-deception is intentional, then, I propose that it is a self-covering intention.” So, why aren’t they lying? What are they exchange it for? A bowl of truth and goodness? Jacob, apparently, was telling his father the truth about who he was when he went in for that birthright, by golly. Is that it? Seriously?
But RK is committed to claiming that unbelievers don’t even believe that God’s existence has been defeated for them.
Quote me. Oh, yeah, that’s right. You’re wrong. They believe it – and LIE. Because it is a self-deceptive belief. A false belief. They know God – they suppress that knowledge – and exchange it for a lie – and say they are unbelievers.
Lastly, he later says he can call the unbeliever a liar because revelation has told RK that the unbeliever actually knows God at all times. Really now? Isn’t that precisely what we’re debating? I assume the infallibility of the Bible too, and I don’t think the exegesis gives us that conclusion. Of course, any Christian worth his salt would say that IF the Bible did reveal that all men had propositional knowledge of the God that exists, and this knowledge was diachronic, and so held at all times (sleeping?), and so indefeasible, then we’d agree all men have it and that it could never be defeasible. But this is what we’re debating, and so this is an egregious beg of the question. I thought we were supposed to build our philosophy and apologetics as much as we can from exegesis, not the other way around!
I’m sorry, when did I say that there were many “possible” interpretations of this passage? I don’t recall doing so. I don’t recall saying, or implying, that any supposed philosophical position was the reason for my exegesis, either. In any case, as you seem to be the one with the certainty issue here, might I direct you to my confession – which unlike the WCF, actually specifically says that the Scripture provides certainty. “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.” As, of course, it is the case that it does so – whatever your lack of certainty uncertainly provides you, in this case – I know that this is the case. I am certain that this is true. It’s not my problem that you aren’t certain of the text’s meaning. That seems to be, as far as I can tell, your problem. I further know, for certain, that the Spirit guides us into all truth. Whether or not you’re certain of this is, again, not my problem.
He goes on with an extended diatribe mocking what I’m supposedly saying, in various technical terms (which I didn’t use), he says that he has provided “exegetical” grounds for rebutting my claim that all men know God. Where? A list of people who disagree? His claim that there is “textual ambiguity”? That commentators disagree? Where does he actually deal with the text itself, other than casting doubts on some other position? I did a lot more dealing with the text itself than he does.
“RK made much of the claim that we needed to have common ground with the unbeliever, and so why isn’t the fact of the imago dei coupled with their warranted true beliefs enough for this? We can preserve common ground, and we can avoid the problematic implications of the austere Van Tillian reading of the apostle Paul. Doesn’t this view have all or most of the benefits of what Van Til was after? This seems more sensible, especially given the philosophical arguments as well as the troublesome issues of exegeting the text in such a specific way? The strong position of RK is underdetermined by the text, and Van Tillians would do well to realize that many of their bold and ambitious claims are actually undetermined by revelation and are also subject to philosophical problems. ”
What does Paul mean here by “imago dei”, since, given he “attentuates” his Van Tillianism? If he was a Van Tillian, I’d have a tons of references for what he’d be saying, but since, as he has shown, he really means “drop part of this Van Tillian stuff” by “attentuate” – this not only might, but necessarily, affects how he’s dealing with the rest of the “facts” he encounters. So, since he doesn’t elaborate, I don’t know.
It’s funny – the vaaaaast majority of his argument is directly philosophical. He barely touches on theology at all, let alone exegete the text he’s dealing with. The problem, Paul, is that only one of us is really laying his cards out on the table. I’m well aware that you have an axe to grind. You’ve been sharpening it for us in public for several years now. Neither one of us is neutral, here. So acting like you’re just shocked about these crazy right-wingers just doesn’t play. The only reason you’re getting a response like this, Mr. Manata, is because you responded to me the way you did. I intentionally tried to be respectful, but all I got was a backhanded apology, with a few more shots thrown in. Not exactly what I was looking to receive, but sadly, not unexpected, given your track record. Not the content – which is fairly typical of the folks “moving away” from Van Til – but the attitude. Good gravy, dude, I’ve had far nicer responses from atheists! If you’re good and insistent on thinking everything I say is going to be filtered through the canon of analytic philosophy, it just ain’t gonna happen. I’m not a philosopher by training, nor do I claim to be. However, I do think you need to really, really take a step back and think about the sort of claims you make about philosophical topics. I don’t see any reason to be as bombastic as you have been about internalism, et al. It’s fairly obvious that only by importing modern terminology back into a foreign context can you call Van Til an “internalist” – since that debate took place later on. If that’s all you have to do the superior act with, spare us all the trouble of lecturing – especially given that you, good sir, are the one who made the claim that he was an internalist.
Really, folks, the issue I’m having with his post(s) is simple. As much as he tries to spin it away from the subject, the issue is actually very simple. Is man’s knowledge of God the basis for all other knowledge, or not? Given his position, I don’t think that this is the case. If they can have warranted true belief withouta priori knowledge that God exists, we’ve given the field away. Their knowledge that God exists (if they get there) is based on reason, not on revelation. Those who claim God doesn’t exist, by what he has told us, do not know God exists. They are morally culpable for believing this, however, falsely – but they cannot be said to know God exists, as they do not believe God exists. This is what I find problematic, and insurmountable, in this schema. To quote: “It is the knowledge that the unbeliever would have, absent any unreasonable defeaters.” Okay, and since the point is being made that they do not believe God exists, it has just been denied, per their schema, that they know God exists. While this is part of what makes it inexcusable – this denial or suppression of the truth – does this not strike us as entirely unreasonable to actually assert that the unbeliever does not know, however unreasonably, that God exists? Further, is it not problematic to bring in such a concept as “would have known” when such is not in view? Maybe it’s just pushing my possibility buttons – but I highly doubt it. Recall that at the beginning of the initial post, the statement is made that “Almost all sides could agree with UKT as stated” – UKT being defined as “All men have knowledge of God.” Does it seem clear to anyone that what is really meant by this is “all men would have, in the absence of unreasonable defeaters, known that God exists”? I don’t think the conclusion begin offered agrees with UKT, as stated. In fact, it denies it, at least in some cases. All men do not have knowledge of God on this view – but merely in the absence of unreasonable defeaters. Since, obviously, and as even Paul admits this, any defeater for this would be unreasonable, we have limited the scope of those who have knowledge down by a sizable amount.
So, as we can see – this position is far from strong, and doesn’t even meet the UTK thesis. It eschews certainty – at least in Mr. Manata’s conception of it – and as far as I can tell, leaves the unbeliever’s basis for knowledge out in the weeds somewhere. Just basically, having said all this? He’s demonstrated exactly why VT is saying we present things as a unit. Where this has brought him is to telling someone in his comments that we should offer a cumulative case apologetic – albeit including TAs of various sorts, if not TAG.
As I said in my initial comment – the issues he’s having are theological – and those theological issues are affecting him everywhere else. Whether it’s because he let his philosophy overrule his theology at some point, or if his conception on some point of theology wasn’t sufficiently robust, I don’t know. It would take even more time, and more e-ink history than he’s spilled on his current blog incarnation. Just in case anyone was wondering – no, I’m not upset. Snarky? Yes. A tad annoyed at how much ad hom he’s willing to dish? Yes. Upset, not really. This little exchange has been waiting in the wings for a while, because he comes up in (at least my) conversation in “right-wing” Van Tillian circles. In fact, I probably upset a couple apple carts by getting into this discussion at all – but it was an excellent opportunity to pick his brain a bit.