An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 23 – Subject determined or free.

By C.L. Bolt

Causality and freedom create problems for the subject as well. Suppose we hold that all physical changes are to be explained through physical causes and that we as humans are purely physical. Whenever a physical change takes place it does so due to prior physical causes operating in accordance with the laws of physics. Any physical changes made with respect to our bodies are no exception to this rule including changes described in terms of mental states. Our mental states and our actions are bound to the physical causal chain so that freedom has no place in …

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An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 22 – Severing the senses.

By C.L. Bolt

The senses are often thought of as a way to escape the self. Perhaps the subject can transcend the self in some sense through sense experience. Unfortunately, all that one has through such experience is experience itself which is internal and says little if anything about the external world. Of course we would like to think that our senses are a reliable guide to the truth about the external world, but we might call this into question.

We all know how fallible the senses are. They are easily affected by emotions, health, alcohol, distance, etc. The …

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An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 21 – Conceptual map and the external world.

By C.L. Bolt

In part 20 we learned that there is a disconnect between the subject and object or at any rate that there is no reason for the subject to think that there exists any connection at all between self and the objects of knowledge. The external world, in other words, cannot even be known when we begin an epistemology with ourselves.

We are assuming here for the sake of argument that the subject has decided to start with self in attempting to think about and know the world. We are assuming as well that the subject has gathered …

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An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 20 – Skepticism as a problem of connection.

By C.L. Bolt

One way to think of skepticism is as a problem of connection. There are assumptions all throughout our thinking that some things are related to others. What is meant by this will become more clear as we move on, but for now we can think of three main “points” being connected to one another in the Christian worldview. God is one point and can be thought of at the top of a triangle. The subject of knowledge is the bottom left hand point of the triangle. The subjects of knowledge are the knowers; they are …

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An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 19 – Religions that share our authority.

By C.L. Bolt

Our most recent discussion will lead more careful thinkers to question what we should say about religious positions that also claim faith as a starting point for knowledge. First it should be said that most religious varieties of the non-Christian worldview are excluded from the discussion. Most religious views of the world are reducible to atheism. It is extremely rare to find versions of the non-Christian worldview which claim a personal revelation from God. Those who profess belief in some god-like entity who has not revealed itself to humanity have no way of knowing that their god-like …

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An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 18 – Starting point of knowledge.

By C.L. Bolt

If we are going to be able to think about anything at all then we have to start somewhere. The question becomes where we should start in an epistemology and why we should start there. When we speak of an epistemology we are mostly speaking of a structure or program explaining what we can know and how we can know it. If we do not know where to begin with an epistemology then we do not know how to answer the challenge of skepticism that we discussed in the previous part of this introduction. Without a solid …

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An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 17 – Universal problem of skepticism.

By C.L. Bolt

In the last part of this introduction we discussed the method of internal critique, but there is a sense in which internal critique is working at a level that is one step too far in the direction of granting the non-Christian worldview too much. There already exists within philosophy and specifically epistemology the problem of skepticism. Epistemology refers to the particular branch of philosophy that asks questions about whether or not we can know anything, how much we can know, how we know, etc. From the beginning of philosophy there have been those pesky skeptics who have …

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An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 16 – Internal critique.

By C.L. Bolt

It follows from what has been said up to this point that ultimately the way to engage in an apologetic encounter is at the level of worldviews. A worldview must be taken as a whole and looked at that way. It is possible to critique a worldview from another worldview. It might even be beneficial to do so. For example, the reason that the non-Christian worldview fails ultimately is because it does not match up to the Christian worldview. We look at the claims of the Christian worldview and find fault with other worldviews in part and …

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An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 15 – Illustrating necessity by the impossibility of the contrary.

By C.L. Bolt

We’ve said some important things concerning the sufficiency of the Christian worldview and the nature of the transcendental. Let’s set aside these previous discussions for now and focus on demonstrating the necessity of the Christian worldview by virtue of the impossibility of the contrary. You will recall our much earlier discussion of the impossibility of the contrary in Part 12.

In the context of transcendental arguments one need not speak of competing transcendentals (plural) but only of a competing transcendental (singular). If one is to demonstrate that some given condition is necessary then one need only to …

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An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 14 – Nature of the transcendental.

By C.L. Bolt

We spoke before of beliefs that are preconditions for intelligible experience; transcendental beliefs. A set of transcendental beliefs constitute what we might call the transcendental conceptual scheme. If there were some view of the world that were completely “other” with respect to our own then we would be unable to comprehend it as a competitor. When no comparison can be made between two different schemes the two schemes are not recognizable by their respective adherents. The foreign scheme would simply not mate with our own. If we were unable to understand such an allegedly competing transcendental then …

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