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Thread: Answering Street Epistemology

  1. #11
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    You know what helps in situations like that?

    Hanging out on forums like Theologyweb - and reading various online blogs like JP Holding's Tektonics, Glen Miller's Christian Think Tank, etc, where you basically come across every argument that such atheists can come up with and see multiple answers to those questions, and also can learn about various evidences for Christianity and God, the reliability of the bible, etc. And you get over your fear of discussing such things in person as you gain confidence online.
    I agree. I would like to add that discussing things online is a lot different than discussing things in person. When discussing things online, one can take some time to formulate an answer before making a post. Talking to people in person is like impromptu speaking. One is put on the spot.

  2. #12
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    I would first have to discern whether I wished to engage in an exchange with such an individual. If I did, in any case, I doubt that it would be a prolonged engagement of any sort.
    If a street epistemology approached, I would be happy to talk with him or her. A situation like that gives me the opportunity to talk about God's plan of salvation.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Hayward View Post
    Street Epistemology has been around for quite a long time. Its originator, Peter Boghossian, published his A Manual for Creating Atheists, on which Street Epistemology is based, back in 2013. Recruiting new Street Epistemologists started in earnest in September 1986 and there's now -- according to their "List of 10,000" -- 785 Street Epistemologists.

    That's enough background, now down to the nitty-gritty: with so many Street Epistemologists so-say actively seeking reliable methods of knowing, and who are "committed to helping others lead more reflective lives with less reliance on unreliable epistemology" -- you would expect that they should now be able to tell you what are reliable methods of knowing, and to be able to detail what reliable epistemology is. If you read their online materials or their Facebook (etc) posts you'll soon realise they haven't a clue.

    Try challenging them on whether there actually is a reliable method for knowing (or what reliable epistemology actually is) -- for knowing anything, it's supposed to be a method for challenging any belief whatsoever, including the belief that the Earth is spherical, 2+2=4 or that the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old; if, implausibly you get an answer -- their advice is to avoid anything that pins them to any definitive statement -- challenge them on how they can and do know it's a reliable method/epistemology.

    That should be enough, and with luck you might leave one or two questioning themselves and their methods.

    Additional questions could be: what they claim is a reliable method isn't the only reliable method; what if it's not the best, and how would they know if it was; are different methods reliable in some areas of knowledge but not others and if so, how do they know which for which, and what are the reliable methods for knowing that; … add your own, shouldn't be hard, just keep questioning them and put them on the spot accounting for their beliefs.

    That there are reliable methods is itself a belief: ask them what a reliable method for knowing their belief is correct is, and how they can know, and how they can know that, and …

    If you've been watching their videos, you probably know more about their methods and questions than I do. Just turn them back on them. Knowing how you know how you know how... is an infinite regress. Ask them what, if anything can be known without question. Oh, and how they know it can be known without question.



    Do I, do you, does anyone, actually use a method? When was the last time you used an actual method, and what was it? Ask this of them, ask for a couple of worked examples of their methods and ask how they know these methods are reliable.

    I agree with your idea of challenging them on whether there is a reliable method for knowing anything. Someone can say that he or she definitely knows something because he or she experienced it with one of their five senses, but one can ask, "How do you know that your senses are reliable?" Someone else could claim that they know things because he or she figured something out with their reasoning skills, but someone could ask about how their reasoning is reliable. A person can ask "How do you know that?" every time he hears a knowledge claim. In order to avoid the infinite regress of justifying one's truth claims, there must be some belief that does not require a justification or a belief that is impossible to deny its truth.

    What do you think of the presuppositionalist's claim that without the Christian God, one cannot justify their belief that their senses and reasoning are reliable?

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    tWebber seer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornet View Post
    What do you think of the presuppositionalist's claim that without the Christian God, one cannot justify their belief that their senses and reasoning are reliable?
    These ideas go back to Descartes, not just modern presuppositionalists. That without God no certain knowledge is possible.

    God and the Attainment of Knowledge

    Although Descartes’ rational foundationalism moves away from Biblical revelation and Papal authority to a system of individually verifiable knowledge, God still plays an enormous role in Descartes epistemology. Not only does Descartes believe in the existence of God (and hope to convince the readers of the Meditations to come to the same conclusion), he believes that this new system of inquiry succeeds as a result of God’s existence. If we are to succeed in our project of attaining fundamental and certain knowledge, it will depend on the existence of a benevolent God who allows us to access this knowledge. Descartes would like to argue that God is so important to our acquisition of knowledge that even the certainty of geometrical demonstrations will depend upon the knowledge of God. "And thus I see plainly that the certainty and truth of every science depends exclusively upon the knowledge of the true God, to the extent that, prior to becoming aware of him, I was incapable of achieving perfect knowledge about anything else." (Descartes 5:47)

    Descartes’ criticism of empiricism for its lack of certainty is solved by the role of God in his epistemic theory. It is our sense experience and propensity to error that stands in the way of the attainment of certain knowledge.

    https://www.uvic.ca/humanities/philo...a/TheRole.html
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

  5. #15
    tWebber David Hayward's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornet View Post
    I agree with your idea of challenging them on whether there is a reliable method for knowing anything. Someone can say that he or she definitely knows something because he or she experienced it with one of their five senses, but one can ask, "How do you know that your senses are reliable?" Someone else could claim that they know things because he or she figured something out with their reasoning skills, but someone could ask about how their reasoning is reliable. A person can ask "How do you know that?" every time he hears a knowledge claim. In order to avoid the infinite regress of justifying one's truth claims, there must be some belief that does not require a justification or a belief that is impossible to deny its truth.

    What do you think of the presuppositionalist's claim that without the Christian God, one cannot justify their belief that their senses and reasoning are reliable?
    If you assume I have the extensive knowledge of theology and philosophy so ably demonstrated by the so many here who I am unfit to undo the sandals of, you are sadly mistaken. The nearest I get is understanding and liking the argument that with evolution by natural selection one cannot justify belief that the senses and reasoning are reliable.

    It's probably a mistake to try out sophisticated theology (as Jerry Coyne likes to describe it) on Street Epistemologists: despite the claim to philosophical competence implicit in the self-styled name, Street Epistemologist, I would be very surprised if many, if any, were; so far as I can discern from their written material that's just PR and pretension.

    As I don't think presuppositionalism is anything that a Street Epistemologist would propose, and as I wouldn't either -- as you will see by re-reading my posts above, I would walk on -- I will refrain from attempting to discuss with you a matter I know little about.

    Perhaps competent others will, either here or -- so you don't derail your own thread -- in a new thread set up for that purpose.
    Last edited by David Hayward; 07-15-2019 at 10:10 AM. Reason: Added missing "to"

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornet View Post
    I agree. I would like to add that discussing things online is a lot different than discussing things in person. When discussing things online, one can take some time to formulate an answer before making a post. Talking to people in person is like impromptu speaking. One is put on the spot.
    Which is why having had the same arguments over and over online () we should all have this stuff memorized.

  7. #17
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornet View Post
    I agree with your idea of challenging them on whether there is a reliable method for knowing anything. Someone can say that he or she definitely knows something because he or she experienced it with one of their five senses, but one can ask, "How do you know that your senses are reliable?" Someone else could claim that they know things because he or she figured something out with their reasoning skills, but someone could ask about how their reasoning is reliable. A person can ask "How do you know that?" every time he hears a knowledge claim. In order to avoid the infinite regress of justifying one's truth claims, there must be some belief that does not require a justification or a belief that is impossible to deny its truth.

    What do you think of the presuppositionalist's claim that without the Christian God, one cannot justify their belief that their senses and reasoning are reliable?
    I would ask the Atheist since there cannot be evidence for a lack of a God, how can they be sure there isn't one? Lack of evidence isn't evidence of a lack. The only logical position without any positive evidence for there being no God would be agnostic, and there is can be no positive evidence that there is no God, but there is a lot of evidence that there IS a God. Even if they don't accept it, or think it is good evidence, it is a lot better than the NO Evidence they have that there isn't a God.

  8. Amen Chrawnus, David Hayward amen'd this post.
  9. #18
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    I would ask the Atheist since there cannot be evidence for a lack of a God, how can they be sure there isn't one?
    Some atheists say, "I'm not claiming that God does not exist. I just lack a belief in God." My response to this is that they claim that the origin of the universe, moral values, laws of logic, and so on can be explained without God. They do make the positive claim that they don't need God as an explanation for anything.

  10. #19
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Hayward View Post
    Taking a step backwards to get an overview, why bother?

    Presumably your post asks (in effect) how to "win" such an exchange. That's unlikely: your Street Epistemologist is going to be a super-atheist; what you see in the videos is them picking the low-hanging fruit, the people easily swayed, the over-willing to please -- for a start, they stopped for a stranger; they themselves will be hardened in their attitudes, lost causes not open to much if any doubt, they'll have an atheist support group, and in a week they'll be unchanged and you forgotten -- so were you to "win" you've still lost; and you haven't "won" in the eyes of onlookers because the modus operandi of the, er, interview is to be one-on-one, there normally aren't any onlookers. So how do you suppose you might win, in any worthwhile sense?

    I suppose you can chalk up wasting fifteen minutes of their time, but they have also wasted fifteen minutes of yours, I'd call that a loss. Walk by, why even bother with them!
    Why bother? I think it is an opportunity to talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  11. Amen Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
  12. #20
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikewhitney View Post
    It may help for churches to have some basic answers to issues raised by these extremists.

    1. Christianity isn't an intellectual exercise but a relationship with God.
    2. But people have come via intellectual study of scripture and even when trying to oppose Christianity. C.S. Lewis came through study of scripture.
    3. The scriptures document history and are reliable as other historical accounts. To deny scriptures is similar to denying all other historical accounts.
    4. "I" may not be able to deal with questions of trustworthiness of knowledge. But people who have studied questions of 'knowledge' can deal with your atheist questions
    5. The interviewer only has maybe 30 years of experience ... and now wishes to overturn two thousand years of understanding?

    I saw parts of the video with Tia. The atheist was disingenuous in his line of questioning -- he was not just wanting to hear people's ideas. His goal was of one-upmanship rather than saving people.

    This may not be the best list of ideas but it is a start.
    I agree that churches and individual Christians need to have answers to their questions.

    Suppose someone is talking with a street epistemologist and he says that he believes in Christianity because there is good evidence outside of the Bible that Christianity is true. What do you think of the claim made by certain apologists that if you believe in Christianity because of some evidence outside of the Bible that you are standing as a judge over the Bible?

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