Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Distilling the truth

Belief systems have presuppositions, and facts are then interpreted in light of those presuppositions. Of course facts can challenge such presuppositions, but frequently auxiliary hypotheses are added, which are then disregarded or changed so that the underlying theory stays intact. This is a reasonable approach, and everyone does it to a degree, but if the presuppositions are fundamentally incorrect then the theory will have significant error, and this tendency (to focus on modifying auxiliary hypotheses) means the wrong foundation may never be changed. Thus claims must be distilled, with facts being accepted and theory being questioned. The difficulty being that the 2 are frequently entwined, and rejection of the theory is perceived as rejection of the facts.

This applies to every field, mathematics, the hard sciences, behavioural studies, politics, economics, theology,...

I hold physics and chemistry in high regard because their foundations are solidly Christian. I subscribe to Christian theologies but reject Eastern theologies/ philosophies because of their rejection of objective reason and objective truth which I see as foundational to Christian philosophy. I reject some economic theory but accept those that are consistent with Christian teaching. I am not a big fan of psychology and treat it with a significant caution. It is not that one cannot or should not study human nature, that seems to be a legitimate and accessible field. Rather I am suspicious of it because its foundations are not biblically derived, and probably anti-biblical.

Lest one gain the impression that I do not think about my positions let me state that I think more about the positions that I hold than I do not. I spend significantly more time thinking about the intricacies of minor Christian theological doctrines than I do about major Eastern religious doctrines.

It is doing this that helps me better identify the fact theory divide. I am fully at liberty to take my information from people that do not hold orthodox belief, but because they are not of Christian persuasion, I am aware that they may misunderstand what they know or discover, or how they reason about such knowledge. Not that Christians are immune to such, but many hopefully start with correct presuppositions, that is truthful axioms, underlying beliefs that correspond to reality.

This is a good reason to stay grounded in the Bible. In a pluralistic society many ideas compete for our allegiance. We need to be cautious about 2 things, rejecting truth because it comes from a non-Christian source, and accepting falsehood because it seems to correspond to experience. It may be that we accept truthful facts that are married to wrong philosophy and the 2 are packaged together. We take on the fact which appears (and is) true, but inappropriately accept false philosophy. Or perhaps recognise the false philosophy and rightly reject it but inappropriately discard the fact attached.

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