Friday, April 20, 2007

Epistemological Context

En re the godtube discussion, I think you guys are talking past each other. Even though that dude is not part of our group, I thought it might be helpful for me to boil down my perspective on this discussion, seeing as it's related to a topic that comes up occasionally on our blog. I'm going to talk mostly about the discussion Nathan's having, because it's more interesting. Here's what I read.

Russ says: Godtube claims to be Christian but is not. Though it may fall in line with conventional ideas of Christian culture, it does not accomplish the true nature of Christianity. But I'm not going to bother to define what the true nature of Christianity is, or how Godtube misses it.

My take: Flamebait. This guy is ranting about how embarrassed he was by this site. He doesn't bother to make any sort of cogent argument, just a general "get out of the closet and engage with the culture" kind of statement. He doesn't intend to prove anything, possibly because he is not himself accustomed to arguing with people that he disagrees with, and is merely stating his opinions as facts.

Nathan says: You say that you can't know what is truly Christian, but I think you can; here's 35 points and a 5000-word quote from an 18th century theologian. With no paragraph breaks. Obviously, you are a crazy postmodern relativist.

My take: You missed his point, I think. His primary statement was that Godtube would probably produce mostly hypocritical religious content; and that if it was to produce true Christian content, it would be more appropriate to disseminate that content into the world, rather than "hide your light under a bushel." His questioning of a person's ability to evaluate the Christian nature of content is a throwaway, more a vote of "No Confidence" in Godtube than an epistemological stance.

Russ says: You claim you can know what is Christian. But it's not that simple, because the Bible doesn't mention Godtube.

My take: He may be saying, "the noumena of Christian truths are not humanly knowable, therefore to apply them to a new context you must take the stance of a person who is merely making educated guesses." Not that he'd say it that way. I don't think he really has put enough thought into it to get to that point, though.

Nathan says: Because humans are fallible, the Bible is the only source of truth. Therefore you are a Buddhist.

My take: If humans are fallible, their interpretation of the Bible is also fallible. The truth is, though, that humans are not 100% fallible. Maybe, like 30%. So a human source of truth might be more fallible due to our limited knowledge: something like 60%. A human interpretation of something absolutely true, though, could be less fallible, depending on the relative fallibility of the particular subject: possibly as low as 15%! So, the Bible is the source of absolute truth. Humans on their own are prone to great fallibility. Humans working in concert with the Bible are still fallible, but the fallibility quotient has been significantly decreased.


Nathan Wells said...

Thank you Ben, this is helpful for me.

Danny Slavich said...

Very good summary by Ben "The Epistemological Hammer" Mancini. I'm pretty sure your first child's first words will be "probability quotient."

GodTube is stupid, by the way. There. It's finally settled.