Truth Tuesday:Francis Schaeffer on logical positivism

Francis Schaeffer on logical positivism

How Knowing (and the Creative Act) Works – Esther Meek

Published on Oct 22, 2015

Dr. Esther Meek, Professor of Philosophy at Geneva College, explains the difference between knowledge and knowing, and how it is rooted in the Gospel. Download Slides

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The Process of Knowing

Published on Mar 29, 2016

In this episode, Dr. Darrell Bock, Dr. Esther L. Meek, Dr. Tim J. Basselin, and Bill Hendricks discuss the process of knowing, focusing on one?s personal involvement in experiencing and discovering truth.

http://www.dts.edu/thetable/play/proc…

00:15 Dr. Meek?s interest in epistemology
04:30 The contribution of Michael Polanyi to philosophy
09:29 The flaws in Western approaches to knowledge
15:22 Personal interaction and covenant epistemology
22:53 The process of knowing and its impact on the knower
28:45 God and the personalization of reality
34:48 Indwelling and the pursuit of knowledge
37:18 Contrasting the indwelling of physical space with the indwelling of ideas
39:20 One?s response to reality and its response to a person
44:02 Pledge, openness and transformative learning

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/t…

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I love the works of Francis Schaeffer and I have been on the internet reading several blogs that talk about Schaeffer’s work and the work below was really helpful. Schaeffer’s film series “How should we then live?  Wikipedia notes, “According to Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live traces Western history from Ancient Rome until the time of writing (1976) along three lines: the philosophic, scientific, and religious.[3] He also makes extensive references to art and architecture as a means of showing how these movements reflected changing patterns of thought through time. Schaeffer’s central premise is: when we base society on the Bible, on the infinite-personal God who is there and has spoken,[4] this provides an absolute by which we can conduct our lives and by which we can judge society.  Here are some posts I have done on this series: Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age”  episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” .

In the film series “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?” the arguments are presented  against abortion (Episode 1),  infanticide (Episode 2),   euthanasia (Episode 3), and then there is a discussion of the Christian versus Humanist worldview concerning the issue of “the basis for human dignity” in Episode 4 and then in the last episode a close look at the truth claims of the Bible.

Francis Schaeffer

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Francis Schaeffer on logical positivism

Logical positivism claims to lay the foundation for each step as it goes along, in a rational way. Yet in reality it puts forth no theoretical universal to validate its very first step. Positivists accept (though they present no logical reason why this should be so) that what reaches them from the “outside” may be called “data”; i.e., it has objective validity.

This dilemma was well illustrated by a young man who had been studying logical positivism at Oxford. He was with us in Switzerland as a student … and he said one day, “I’m confused about some of these things. … when this data reaches you …”

At once I said, “How do you know, on the basis of logical positivism, that it is data?”

He started again, and went on for another sentence or two, and then said a second time, “When this data reaches you …”

…I had to say, “No, you must not use the word data. It is loaded with all kinds of meaning; it assumes there is objectivity, and your system has never proved it.”

“What do I say then?” he replied.

So I said, “Just say blip. You don’t know what you mean by data, so substitute blip.”

He began one more, “When blip reaches you …” and the discussion was over. On the basis of their form of rationalism, there is just as much logic in calling something “blip” as “data.”

Thus, in its own way, though it uses the title of positivism and operates using reason, it is just as much a leap of faith as existentialism – since it has no postulated circle within which to act which validates reason nor gives a certainty that what we think is data is indeed data.

Michael Polanyi’s (1891-1976) work showed the weakness of all forms of “positivism” and today positivism in theory is dead. However, it must be said that the materialistic, rationalistic scientists have shut their eyes to its demise and continue to build their work upon it as though it were alive and well. They are doing their materialistic science with no epistemological base. In the crucial area of knowing, they are not operating on facts but faith.

Francis Schaeffer, “The God who is there”, emphasis mine.

The trouble is that there are many non-scientists who have accepted the epistemological assertions of the “materialistic, rationalistic scientists” who “have shut their eyes” the the demise of their epistemological foundation, that science is an adequate philosophical foundation for not believing in God. “Well, we know so much more than we used to know. It used to be necessary to believe in God to explain the world around us. But nowadays, we are much better informed, and belief in God is not necessary.”

Science as a philosophy – “scientism”, if you like – is not built on a solid foundation. For example, Richard Dawkins said: “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” This is not a logical statement. Firstly, although Darwin provided a naturalistic and gradualistic explanation of how life might arise, this actually has no bearing on whether or not there is a god (which is, in effect, what Dawkins is claiming). Secondly, what is absent from Darwin’s (and Dawkins’) work is reference to an epistemological foundation. It is a justification of this which would provide the possibility to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, rather than a description of phenomena. Questions such as: how does life differ from non-life? what is consciousness? what is communication? why do the things that matter so much to us – truth, love, beauty, justice – seem to have so little to do with the physical nature of the universe?

This isn’t to say that science is bunk. On the contrary, the achievements of science in explaining the nature of the universe are immense and wonderful. Also, some scientists have made sincere attempts to answer these questions. But like the student that Schaeffer talked to, their answers are not philosophically complete.

Science is not the sole preserve of logical positivists. In fact, the foundations of modern science were laid by people with a very different philosophical framework – Christians, who believed that the foundation for belief in the objective validity of data was the existence of a deity, an external absolute reference point. Christians still do science today. It’s uncommon for their books to be as successful as those of the logical positivists who haven’t comprehended their mislaid foundation yet, though.

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By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Francis Schaeffer | Edit | Comments (0)

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