Saturday, January 10, 2015

Creeping Cultism

I recently shared a paper on epistemology to some Reconstructionists and Van Tillians.  I did not see myself as attacking Van Til, yet merely asking some technical questions on philosophy.  I thought I saw a weakness in a specific argument Greg Bahnsen made.  Mind you, I wasn't saying Bahnsen was wrong (in the broadest sketches I think he was on to something), but merely saying that one aspect is faulty, but if that aspect is fixed then the argument can probably be salvaged.

The response was ugly.   That shouldn't be surprising, since Recons really haven't done much in scholarship beyond the middle days of Gentry and Demar, and those two only wrote on two or three topics at most.  I suggested around this time last year that Christian reconstructionism was down for the count after the Doug Phillips sex scandal.   While Phillips himself wasn't much of a thinker and didn't offer any scholarship, he at least advanced Recon thought on a wide level.

Back to the paper.  Long story short, I was using several highly specific philosophy terms.  There is nothing intrinsically holy about those terms. It's just the current usage in philosophy.  These guys at this Facebook page didn't bother to understand these terms and merely started chanting reconstructionist slogans to each other.

One of these slogans was the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG).  It says in order to know anything, you must presuppose God.  That's fine and that wasn't my beef.  My problem was that if we try to tie this to internalist models of epistemology, then the argument runs into problems (and there are HUGE problems with the argument beyond what I have given).

Yet these gentlemen seemingly identified their formulation of the argument with the argument itself, which meant any questioning of their formulation was a questioning of the argument.  And if the argument, so they perceived, seemed to fail, then all hope of knowledge was lost.

Of course, I had no such intention, but their reaction was quite telling and it is what you see in a lot of cults.  A questioning of one aspect of a beloved leader = criticism of Our Glorious Leader.

Which is a shame, since I love Greg Bahnsen.  But it gets worse.  The nature of the TAG argument is that without it knowledge is impossible.

Sadly, it gets worse than that.  They could not tolerate any deviation from the "formula."  Whenever the words of a theory become sacrosanct and beyond challenge, what you have is idolatry in its crudest form.

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