Christian Apologetics - Lesson 8

Noetic Structure

Your noetic structure, presuppositions and view of epistemology are important elements in the formation of your worldview.

Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Lesson 8
Watching Now
Noetic Structure

Worldview Issues

Part 1

I.  Noetic Structure

A.  Definition - The sum total of everything a person believes plus the relationships between those beliefs.

B.  Relationship to Worldview


II.  What is a Presupposition?

A.  Definition - A belief that is held without proof or support of any kind.

B.  Several kinds of presuppositions.

C.  Augustine


III.  Non-theoretical Foundations of Theoretical Thought

A.  Non-cognitive

B.  Examples

C.  Biased viewpoint


IV.  The Role of the Holy Spirit


V.  Epistemology

A.  The Christian Theory of Knowledge

B.  Reformed Epistemology

1.  Belief-forming Dispositions

2.  Triggering Conditions

C.  Alvin Plantinga

D.  The Touchstone Proposition

1.  Human beings and the universe in which they reside are the creation of the God who has revealed himself in Scripture.

2.  Access to all of the truth of Scripture

3.  Carl F. H. Henry

  • Introduction to Apologetics.

  • Apologetics involves finding evidence and presenting arguments to defend the Christian faith.

  • Two prominent worldviews are Christian theism and naturalism.

  • The law of non-contradiction states that A cannot be B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense.

  • Explanations and responses to different worldviews.

  • If God is good and all powerful, then why does evil exist?

  • Discussion about how the existence of evil is consistent with God's character.

  • Your noetic structure, presuppositions and view of epistemology are important elements in the formation of your worldview.

  • Discussion of deductive presuppositionalism vs. inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Objections to inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Arguments for and against evidentialism.

  • Arguments for and against foundationalism.

  • Discussion of natural theology.

  • There are valid, sound and cogent arguments for the existence of God, but no coercive proofs.

  • Discussion of different arguments for God's existence.

  • One version of the cosmological argument for God's existence emphasizes God as first in time, another emphasizes God as first in importance.

  • A possible world is a way the real world could have been. Modal logic, propositions, state of affairs and eternal entities are some of the considerations when discussing a possible world.

  • Something is logically possible if its description does not include a logical contradiction. The existence of the laws of knowledge refute the system of naturalism.

  • Middle knowledge is a form of knowledge attributed to God by Molina.

  • Miracles are a dividing line and central to Christianity.

  • David Hume's rational arguments against miracles and responses to those arguments.

  • Two miracles central to Christianity are the incarnation and resurrection.

  • The question of whether or not Jesus is the only savior touches on pluralism, inclusivism and exclusivism.

  • Pluralism is the view that all religions have salvific value.

  • Inclusivism is the view that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for a person to be saved.

  • Salvation is totally the work of God and all children who die in infancy are elect of God.

  • Discussion from a biblical perspective of God's character and attributes.

  • Open theists believe that God does not have a perfect knowledge of the future.

  • Divine omnipotence and divine omniscience are two attributes of God.

  • When contemplating life after death, remember, Jesus has been there and come back. Will you commit your life to him or reject him?

These lectures were given at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida during the fall of 2001.


Dr. Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Noetic Structure
Lesson Transcript


[00:00:01] Our task today is to go through the first four chapters of the book, Faith and Reason, and look at six, at least six major issues that come from those first four chapters. This is always a funny a funny week because there are times when I leave this particular class wondering, you know, if I've spent my time properly. But these six points which are buried in the text of chapters one through four require some kind of separate comment. They require some kind of separate attention. So let me put them let me number them and put them on the board. The first thing we're going to talk about is the material covered in chapter two under the heading Noetic structure. As I was writing this book way back in 1984 85, I forget what year it was. I had a reader, a former student, who at that time was teaching philosophy at Gordon College, who was really generous in his time and who let me send him the manuscripts until finally, finally he wrote me back or, you know, contacted me in some way. And he said, You didn't tell me you were writing an encyclopedia or something. In other words, the book was getting pretty long. That former students name is Kelley Clark. Kelley Clark is now teaching at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He got a Ph.D. at Notre Dame under Alvin Plantinga, whose work will now begin to play an increasingly important role in the course. Let me explain this term noetic structure. First of all, let me define the term noetic structure. And what I write on the board is precisely what you will give me in one week when I ask you to define the term. All right. A noetic structure is the sum total of a person's beliefs, plus the relationships between those beliefs, plus the relationships or the relations between those beliefs. Now, this this definition, per say, is not in your textbook. It's kind of a compilation of various points that I make. Okay. So let us let us create a box here. All right. And this box is totally different from the other boxes that we've given you so far in the course. This box represents your noetic structure. Included in your noetic structure are all of the beliefs that you now hold. Including a great number of beliefs which you might have to work very hard at remembering. Okay. And your noetic structure also includes all of the beliefs that you've held during your past. Many of which perhaps have faded from your memory. Let me utter the magic word, Cleveland. Okay. Many of my beliefs, memory, beliefs. Beliefs based upon sense, experience and so on. Relate to Cleveland. I think of many, many, many excellent meals I've had. At a restaurant that no longer exists in Cleveland, Ohio, the New York Spaghetti House. I even have a souvenir menu from that restaurant. All right. But the you know, when I moved out of town, I guess they figured they that was no, they had no further reason to exist. So they closed the place down. Obviously, I have many great memories, memory beliefs about the old Cleveland Stadium. Right now I have a mental image of Ted Williams batting, getting some fearsome hit, as Ted did on many occasions. And also Joe DiMaggio may long before he met ever, ever, ever met Marilyn Monroe and all of these other things. All right. And then, of course, the great Cleveland Indians teams of the last ten years. So all of a person's beliefs make up his noetic structure. A noetic structure also includes the logical relations between those beliefs. When I think of Jacob's Field boom automatically, I think also of the New York Spaghetti House, because it's right across. It used to be right across the street from Jacob's Field. Mm hmm. Hmm. I also think of many bad sermons in connection with Cleveland, Ohio. So the beliefs and the and the various relations between them and those relations may be causal relations or they may be psychologically related or things like that. Now, what I'm going to do next is draw. I can either draw a circle or I can draw a smaller square. Which would you rather see first part of a smaller square. All right. That smaller square within the box that represents your noetic structure is your worldview. Why? Because we've already defined your worldview as the sum total of your answers to the most important questions in life. Would it not therefore follow that of all of the beliefs in your noetic structure, your world view, the worldview component of your noetic structure contains the most important beliefs in your noetic structure. Does that make sense? Amen. So that's basically why I go into this material about the noetic structure. Now, the second point I want to make, and I don't think I indicated the chapter, I want to introduce you to the word presupposition. Well, let's let's still let's still leave the square for our noetic structure up there. What is a presupposition? Answer It is a belief that we hold without proof, without support of any particular kind. Now, please understand that what I'm giving you as a definition of a what I'm defining here as a presupposition has some degree of relativity to it. That is, there may be a belief that functions as a presupposition for other beliefs at a particular time in your life. And then perhaps later on, you go on and prove it. Let me deal here with what perhaps is the most important presupposition in any Christian's worldview, and that is the belief that God exists. In case you don't know it yet, you probably will know it by the time this period is over. During my younger life, during my during my younger days, I was powerfully influenced by the work of two great evangelical thinkers, Gordon Clark and Carl F.h. Henry. Gordon Clark has gone on to heaven. Carl Henry is now 84, 85 years old. Carl and I don't communicate too much anymore, but he and I were certainly very close for all the years from 1975 probably to 1990, at which point our our paths went in somewhat separate directions, simply because he had moved up into Wisconsin. And I, of course, had moved down here. But Carl Henry and Gordon Clark were both what we call presupposition analysts. Now, that's an important name. That's an important word, presupposition, wisdom. One of the things I'm going to get at before this class is over is the fact that there is more than one kind of presupposition listening for those listening by tape who do not know more about the context in which we study here at Reform Theological Seminary. A lot of the students that I teach here believe that there is one and only one kind of presupposition wisdom. And that is the kind of presupposition or ism associated with a former professor, now deceased, who taught at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His name, of course, was Cornelius Vanderbilt. And for whatever reason, a lot of students come to this reformed theological seminary, totally persuaded that if you're a presupposition as you are, you are a follower of Cornelius Vanderbilt. I think it's important to disabuse people of that opinion. There are at least three kinds of presupposition wisdom, and the kind that I represent has as much entitlement to the label of presupposition wisdom as any of Van Tils followers. Now, one of the differences between the various kinds of presupposition ism is how we define it. I'm not sure I can. I'll leave it for others to define. Cornelius Van Tils idea of a presupposition. I'll simply tell you that a presupposition is an important belief that either you don't prove or you cannot prove, but which you are certainly entitled to believe without proof. Okay. One of the nice things about the presupposition of ism that I picked up early in my Christian life was that I learned even before I went to graduate school at Brown University. Where, incidentally, I was in the same class as Ted Turner. Some of you may have heard me mention that Ted Turner and I both went to Brown University. I discovered the other day, I guess Ted Turner didn't graduate from Brown. Sometimes I tell people, and if you've heard me say this before, please laugh. One day I think I ran into Ted Turner in the in the hallway at Brown University. And I said, Ted, think television. Think television. Thank you for laughing. Thank you for laughing. Ted has never forgotten that piece of advice. You know, I also probably said on different occasions, think baseball, you know, things like that. And okay, enough about Ted Turner. So all. Let me quote Saint Augustine here or let me quote a paraphrase of Saint Augustine. Augustine said, No one can know anything unless he first believes something. All human knowledge rests upon presuppositions which often are not proved and often cannot be proven. And there's nothing wrong with that because everybody does it. And once you're tuned into presupposition elision, the likelihood of your being thrown for a loop by a pretty impressive, powerful professor. Is lessened greatly. Because when you're getting when you're in the presence of, let's say, a very bright philosopher. Who perhaps is offering arguments designed to challenge your faith instead of being impressed by those claims. What you're doing is you're asking yourself, what are these guy? What is what? What are the presuppositions of this particular guy? Now, point three The heading on page 28 is the non theoretical foundations of theoretical thought. The non theoretical foundations of theoretical thought. Let me write two words on the board right next to the word presupposition. I'm going to write in a different color ink. The word cognitive presuppositions are cognitive. They are. They are also proposition. Okay, Now we use the word cognitive to denote propositions that are either true or false. But the non theoretical foundations of theoretical thought point us to a whole other matter. One of the things that controls how we live, how we believe our presuppositions. But another another collection of things influence us, in some cases even more powerfully. But they are not propositions. They are not propositions and they are not cognitive. Now what we mean when we call something non-cognitive is it doesn't really have anything to do with knowledge. Whenever knowledge is present, propositions are somewhere in the neighborhood. That is, if you're dealing with knowledge, you ought to be able to verbalize it and verbalize it in a proposition that has a subject and a predicate that are connected in some way through a verb. Okay. But non theoretical. The non theoretical things that affect our thinking and our living. Can sometimes be moods. They can be attitudes. They can be feeling. Now, there's a difference then, between a cognitive presupposition, such as my presupposition that the Triune God of the old and the New Testament exists. That's a proposition. But moods and attitudes and feelings would include such things as a positive attitude towards the Bible versus genuine hostility towards everything that is Christian. Genuine hostility, hatred, bias. Couple of examples. A couple of examples. After Martin Luther. The great German reformer died. Well, even during the last few years of his life, a number of Roman Catholics in Europe wrote Vicious attacks upon Luther, such as the following Martin Luther was sexually attracted towards the woman who be the nun who became his wife. Okay, so the Reformation by these bigoted Catholics, I'm talking about bigoted Catholics. In the 16th century, the Reformation was dismissed as nothing more solid than the hatred, the bigotry of many. Now watch. The objective term that I use here. Okay. Object rejected by many of the prejudices of pure Papists. Say I'm doing the same thing. I'm pulling out a pejorative term. Papist. Which is about the worst thing you could have said about a Roman Catholic 400 years ago. Now, the attitudes of many Roman Catholics towards Martin Luther has changed. Why? Because there are many Roman Catholics today who are so liberal. They associate John Paul, the second with the Antichrist. This is Roman. This is liberal Roman Catholics for Mitt. Now, what kind of a Catholic am I describing? I'm a I'm describing a theologically liberal Roman Catholic. He doesn't want to believe in the supernatural. His favorite reading stuff would be the writings of the people in the Jesus Seminar. All right. There are Roman Catholics who who love to read the writings of the people in the Jesus seminar. I mean, just hard core liberal. They don't believe in the Incarnation. They don't believe in the virgin birth. They may still pray to Mary, but that's a pure ritual. All right. These people also tend to be politically liberal and they hate John Paul. The second because he he declared himself ten years ago or so to be an enemy of liberation theology. I say amen to that, brother. He went down to Mexico and he attacked the liberation theologians. He went down to Nicaragua and he refused to shake hands with the Catholic leaders of the Sandinista movement, one of whom was an ex priest. In fact, when when the pope got off the plane in Nicaragua, he took that priest aside and he told them that if he didn't straighten up his act, he was going to go to hell. All right. Well, I like a pope who's going to tell a priest that he might go to hell. I like that kind of a pope, because that's what I would. That's what I want to tell that priest if I'd ever met him. Okay, here's another example. Think of a history of the Civil War. Written by a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Okay. Is that going to be a particularly reliable or dependable historical source? I think not. I think not. So what I'm getting at here is that human beings. Are not really neutral with respect to academic matters or intellectual matters. All kinds of things shape us and twist us and warp us. Hatred, bigotry, racism. Can affect this negatively. Love and admiration can also affect as well. That can affect us in a positive way. Now, just because I recognize that human theoretical thinking is often subject to non theoretical considerations, why should that be a why should that be a privilege just for postmodernists, it seems to me, and this is a point that I made a couple of weeks ago, that what is that? The elements of postmodernism that are getting so much credit in certain places. Certain buildings, maybe even certain rooms. Is nothing new. You would have to be. Oh, let me find a non pejorative term here. You would have to be an idiot not to recognize this, wouldn't you? Am I right? So what's so new and great and terrific about that? And why should that lump me in the same company as Postmodernists? I mean, I'm just as always, I'm just an open minded, objective guy. And I recognize that human beings are often swayed and not only swayed in their evaluation of other opinions and beliefs, but also swayed in their interpreting and their interpretation of various texts. I'll give you an example. Take Romans chapter six. All right. We're Paul describes. Now, my my giggling here. I'm giving away my point. All right. Let me. What? I'm getting a straight face. Do you know that there are people? In this seminary who refused to acknowledge that what Paul is teaching in Romans Chapter six is baptism by immersion. Have you ever heard anybody do that? We are buried with Christ. We are raised with Him in baptism and all of the rest. Now, fortunately, see, I'm unbiased and I just let the text speak for itself. And I can't tell whether the expressions on your face are reliable or dependable or not. Okay. Now, in case you know, one of the scary things about teaching is that some people don't know when. I'm kidding. In fact, you know, I have had students go through an entire course without recognizing one element of kidding. I mean, just and they're the people who who. Whose course evaluations seem negative to some of my administrators. But because every interpretation of every text is subjective. Whenever I get a course evaluation like that, I think it's intended to be a compliment. And that's positive. All right. All right. Are you with me here? So keep in mind that when you are witnessing to people about the existence of the Creator God. The salvific work of the one and only Savior and all of the other important parts of the Christian faith that you may have a problem with the person's presuppositions or you may have problems with that person because maybe somebody in his family was a Christian hypocrite. Maybe he's got some kind of irrational hatred towards the Christian faith or something else. In other words, this may not be and often is not a simple matter of producing premises and drawing conclusions. You're dealing with attitudes, emotions, feelings. In fact, I'll be very frank. I think in most cases, the the people that I've dealt with in my long life who were anti-Christian, their problem was seldom an intellectual problem. It was almost always a personal problem. And you can't ignore that. Okay, now point four from chapters one through four, and it would be criminal to ignore this, even though it doesn't occupy more than one or two sentences in this chapter. It's the role of the Holy Spirit. I suppose if I ever were to rewrite this book, I would I. But look, the Holy Spirit deserves a big chunk of material and any good apologetics textbook. Keep this in mind that when good things happen as a result of witnessing to the truth, it is not the intelligence of the witness. It is not the rhetoric of the witness. It is not the personality of the witness. If it works. If it succeeds, it is the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. That's the work of the Holy Spirit. So whenever you do. A good job in preaching or in witnessing. Don't you pat yourself on the back. Don't do that. Give the thanks where it is due. Do now. This is a true story. I tell it once in a while during one of my messages in the Soviet Union, and I think this was happening on my second trip, which would have been early summer of 1992, and I was in. I think I was an Ivanov. A Russia. You got to understand, in case you don't know, that they're enormous distractions. I mean, everything is stacked against you when you're speaking in that kind of an arrangement, because many of the people in the audience don't understand English, although probably 30, 40% of them did. And so they're listening to a translation of what you've just said. And of course, the translation can change what the point you're making, but they're listening through earphones and overhear. So, you know, you've got that handicap, you know, you've got that distraction. And over here there is one of the great simultaneous translators in the in what was then the entire Soviet Union. These were the tops that a simultaneous translator is a guy who is listening to you speak. And even as the last parts of that sentence are disappearing, he is putting the thoughts he's just heard from you into the Russian language. And I'm. I became friends with it. These are the same guys who come over and translate in the United Nations, or they follow the premier or the president or whatever, of Russia or the Soviet Union. And, you know, some of them came to the U.S. with these guys, and they told me that they can't do this for more than 20 or 30 minutes and they just crack up. So there's got to be another guy there. And this guy moves. He says, I'm out, he surrenders, he gets inside and then somebody else does. So you're hearing this guy over here. You've got all of these other distractions. And one day in particular, I had such enormous freedom. Okay. There were three levels of consciousness going on there. I was conscious of all of the distractions. I'm conscious of the audience. I'm conscious of my material. Maybe four levels of consciousness. And the words were there. The words were there. It's this was not an old canned message. This was basically a new message. And ad, you know, after about 25 minutes, there's a fifth level of consciousness. And here's here's a conversation I'm having with the Lord. I'm saying, Lord, you're doing a great job. Don't stop now. I'm serious, Lord, you're doing a great job. Don't stop now. And he did, okay? He didn't. Well, maybe someday I would wish you could all have that experience. Now, I haven't had that experience Every time I open my mouth and don't say, man, don't a remember. All right. Okay. The role of the Holy Spirit. Now point five is epistemology. Turn to page 37 of Faith and Reason. Now let me tell you what's going on in this chapter. What I do in chapter three is give you by example. The major components of the Christian answer to the five major questions. I explain the difference between the Christian position known as theism that we believe in one but Triune personal God. And I talk about creation and I talk about human nature. And you can read all of that. But what I want to do is read a little bit. From what I say about epistemology on page 37. And here's why. Because not only do I give you a brief overview of a Christian theory of knowledge on pages 37 through 39, but I also introduce you to what is the primary epistemological position that will be represented in this course, a position we call reformed epistemology. Now, most of you have taken the history of philosophy course, and you know that in that course we adopt a certain musical theme. Because that course is a lot a great deal like a symphony, the History of philosophy course. And there is a theme that runs through the whole history of philosophy course called the Lagos Doctrine. And because the course is so much like a great symphony, every time we talk about the Lagos doctrine in the history philosophy course, we sing or we whistle or we harm the love theme from Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet. Okay. There is not no significance at all to the to the fact that every time I come up with a theme song for one of my courses, the composer was a Russian. Don't read anything into that. Okay. Tchaikovsky. Now, the theme of this course is reformed epistemology. Can you imagine a student in this seminary who might hold to a theory of knowledge that is not reformed? Shame on you. The theme song is the theme song from the High and the Mighty, which is a John Wayne movie that none of you have probably ever seen. The theme song goes like this If we had a piano in here, I could play it for you. If I had Captain Corelli's mandolin, I could play it for you right now. Rain Lord Yi yi la da da. You know, somebody ought to write words to their What would be good words? When I first took my ashes. Apologetics. It opened my mind to important note. All right. Okay. Now I'm beginning to read from page the bottom of page 37 in recent Christian writing about epistemology. Bottom paragraph on page 37, philosophers apparently operating on different tracks have found agreement on an important point. In the case of my own track, the kind of Christian rationalism that received its first formulation in the writings of Saint Augustine. It is a mistake to accept an extreme form of empiricism that claims that all human knowledge arises from sense experience. Let us trust that no one in this class has been seduced by that extreme form of empiricism. Older advocates of this empiricism used to illustrate their basic claim by arguing that the human mind at birth is like a tabula rasa, a blank tablet. In that thinking at birth, a human mind is like a totally clean blackboard. Absolutely nothing is written on it. In other words, according to empiricism, human beings are born with no innate ideas or knowledge. O As the human being grows and develops the sense of supply, the mind with an ever increasing stock of information. This is empiricism. All human knowledge results on this model from what the mind does with the ideas supplied to the senses. And these sense ideas are the basic building blocks of knowledge. That's that horribly mistaken position known as empiricism, which incidentally, is probably the worldview belief of 95% of all Americans. Okay. My alternative to this extreme kind of empiricism can be summarized in the claim that some human knowledge does not arise from sense experience. As many philosophers have noted. Let me let me add an adjective there. As many great philosophers have noted. All right. Human knowledge of the sensible world is possible because human beings bring certain ideas, categories and dispositions to their experience of the world. The impotence of empiricism I want you to associate in your mind right now. I want you to know what structure to notice the link between empiricism and impotence. Okay. The impotence of empiricism is especially evident in the case of human knowledge of universal and necessary truth. Many things in the world could have been different. The typewriter I am using. Yes. I wrote this book on a typewriter. Those things used to happen in this world, you know, not computers, typewriters. The typewriter I am using at this moment happens to be brown. But it could have been red. It could have been green. Whether the typewriter is brown or not is a purely contingent feature of reality. It could have been different than it is, but whatever color the typewriter happens to be, it could have been colored differently. But it is necessarily the case. That might typewriter could not have been brown all over and read all over at the same time and in the same sense that is what we call an r priori truth that is logically necessary. The necessary truth that my typewriter is brown all over and not at the same time. Red all over cannot be a function of sense Experience. Sense experience may be able to report what is the case at a particular time. But since experience is incapable of grasping what must be the case at all times. Hmm. The notions of necessity and universality can never be derived from our experience. Those notions go beyond experience, and they also precede experience. Rather, the notions of necessity and universality. That we bring our notions that we bring to sense experience and use and making judgments about reality. Okay, now, sorry, I'm reading here, but I can't improve on this. Okay. Next paragraph. How do we account for the human possession of these are Priore? What that word priori means is independent of sense experience. How do we account for the human possession of these are priori categories of thought or these innate ideas or dispositions that play such an indispensable role in human knowledge according to a long and honored philosophical tradition that includes Augustine Descartes. Enlighten us. Human beings have these innate ideas, dispositions and categories by virtue of their creation, by God. You mean there were a number of philosophers who believed that the human mind possesses certain innate ideas because God gave us those ideas. Yes. Augustine taught this. Descartes taught this. Leyden. It's taught this. Okay. After all, Christians believe this is our Christian worldview we're talking about here. God created the world. It is reasonable to assume that He created humans such that they are capable of attaining knowledge of his creation. Incidentally, that is a presupposition. Which, if missing from any worldview, makes knowledge of the world impossible. It is just possible that the only world view that's out there that can explain human knowledge of the universe is the Christian worldview and this particular presupposition. To go even further, it is reasonable to believe that God endowed the human mind with the ability to attain knowledge of himself. Okay, let's keep reading this good stuff. Recently, a number of philosophers approached a very similar position from a different direction. Notice I'm saying I got to point A and one in one way. These guys got to point A in a different way. My way is better that the terms are disposition, innate ideas or categories. These are all different words, but they all get us to point eight. Now, here I quote from Nicholas Wolterstorff, who today is a tenured professor of philosophy at Yale University. Wolterstorff explains, Like this he's quoting he's talking about the think the theory of knowledge of an 18th century Scottish philosopher named Thomas Reed. Nicholas Wolterstorff explains this at the very foundation of Reed's approach. Is his claim that at any point in our lives we have a variety of dispositions, inclinations, propensities to believe things. Let us call those things belief, dispositions, belief, dispositions. I'll give you some examples of belief definitions disposition shortly. What accounts for our beliefs in the vast majority of cases anyway, is the triggering of one and another such disposition. So I have written on the board here belief dispositions. Now I'm going to write the term triggering conditions. These are the two most important ingredients of reformed epistemology. A reformed epistemology, just as somebody who believes that you can explain. If not all of human knowledge, then certainly a big. And right now, I'm I'm I would like to say all of human knowledge, but. A big chunk of it, at least anyway, in terms of two factors belief forming dispositions, let's add another belief dash forming dispositions and triggering conditions. The belief forming dispositions are innate ideas. The triggering conditions are going to come from your experiences. Okay, For example, we are all so constituted that upon having memory experiences in certain situations, we are disposed to have certain beliefs about the past. We are all disposed upon having certain sensations and certain situations to have certain beliefs about the external physical world, upon having certain other sensations in certain situations. We are all disposed to have certain beliefs about other persons. So notice here you've got something, you've got mental equipment that is innate, cognitive equipment that is inborn, but then you have experiences that provide triggering conditions for these belief forming mechanisms or these belief forming dispositions to plug in and start acting. And voila. That's French. All of a sudden you find yourself believing something. I'll give you an example. Watch me here. I'm going to clap my hands. This is very hard. Don't try this at home. Watch me. All right. Now. Did you notice what you heard after the hands clap? You heard the noise. Now I'm going to ask you a question and be very careful with your answer. How many of you believe that the noise was caused by the clapping of the hands? Raise your hand. I'm looking carefully. All right. For the sake of the tape, fortunately. The 150 people in this room all recognized that the sound was caused by the clapping. Now, let us focus upon one of the belief forming dispositions that every human possesses is the belief forming disposition of causation. We believe that one thing causes another. Now. My granddaughter's five years old. When she was two years old. We could have we could have done this if I had gone like this. And I said, When? Three years ago, when Amanda was two years old, I'd say, Amanda, where did that noise come from? She'd say, Pop up from your clapping your hands. See? We process the belief forming disposition of causation from birth. That's what that's part of our cognitive equipment. Now let's continue to read. Continuing to follow Read's trail, Wolterstorff notes goes on to note that Reed was also interested in how humans came to have these belief forming dispositions. It was Reed's conviction. Wolterstorff explains, quote, that somewhere in the history of each of us are to be found certain belief dispositions with which we were simply endowed by our Creator. Hmm. They belong to our human nature. We come with them. They are innate in us. Their existence in us is not the result of conditioning. It must not be supposed, however, that all such non conditioned dispositions are present in us at birth. Now here, Wolterstorff, I'm sorry to say, is a little mistaken. He confuses two ways in which something can be present in us at birth that can be present explicitly or implicitly. Almost all of these dispositions are present at birth only in an implicit way. It is not until we mature and develop and have some experiences that these belief forming dispositions come to surface. Okay. But some most probably most emerge as we mature. Well, of course, that's when they emerge. But that doesn't mean they weren't present there to begin with. We have the disposition to acquire them upon reaching one and another. There's a little bit of confusion here. All right. I don't care if Wolterstorff does teach at Yale. He's not as precise here as he ought to be. We'll take care of that on some other occasion. The triggering conditions, which would be experience. And I'll give you another crit triggering condition. This lecture? OC This lecture is bringing some of you to a consciousness of cognitive equipment that you have had since you were born, but only today. I mean, truthfully, some of you should be shouting glory right now because I am bringing you to a heightened status of self-awareness that you never had before today unless you took the history of philosophy course. In which case you shouted Glory last year. Alvin planning. Here's a great guy. I think probably the greatest philosopher of my lifetime. And fortunately, he's an evangelical Christian. Album. Planning A draws attention to an important similarity between what Thomas Read said concerning the belief forming mechanisms that make knowledge of the world possible, and what reform thinkers like John Calvin said about belief in God. Quote. This is from planning. Reform theologians such as Calvin have held that God has implanted in us a tendency. The Latin word would be necessary, and I ask us to accept belief in God under certain conditions, among the belief forming dispositions that all human beings have as part of their innate cognitive equipment is a tendency to believe that God exists. God has given us that as a part of the image of God. Calvin speaks in this connection of a sense of deity inscribed in the hearts of all. Now, what we're getting at here is one of the reasons why we call this position reformed epistemology. Because it can be traced back to Calvin. That's a pretty that's reform. Okay. But, of course, it can be traced back beyond Calvin to Saint Augustine and beyond Saint Augustine to. The New Testament. The Scriptures. All right. Mm hmm. Just as we have a natural tendency to form perceptual beliefs under certain conditions, so says Calvin, we have a natural tendency to form such beliefs as God is speaking to me. And God has created all this. Or God disapproves of what I've done under certain wild, widely realized conditions. Okay, Now, I've taken a lot of time on that passage that that three page section of faith and reason why, because it introduces us to the theme of the course. You got to admit, that's a nice melody. Okay. I want to talk about the Christian's touchstone proposition. Touchstone proposition. A number of philosophers and I cite one or two of them in the footnote here have argued that unique to every worldview is a basic. One sentence touchstone proposition. If you're on the ball. If you're thinking correctly, it ought to be possible for you to summarize the essence of any world view. And one touchstone proposition, one sentence. Now, there are some exceptions. California worldviews. Are tough to do in that case. Because you've got so many contradictory elements. The first sentence contradicts the second sentence. That's California for you. Now, what is the touchstone proposition? Well, let me put it this way. What could be the touchstone proposition of naturalism? The last quiz. I asked you to define naturalism. I could have said, but you didn't have the vocabulary then. I could have said, Give me the touchstone proposition of naturalism. What if I did this on the next quiz? Or what if I did this? I've never done this before. What if I did this on the midterm exam? What if I gave you a collection of worldviews and I said, Give me the touchstone proposition of Mormonism? Whew. Could you do that? I know some of you would say you'd have in there polygamy. All right. Well, that used to be part of the touchstone proposition. But they got new revelation. And the reason they got new revelation was because the federal government was going to throw them all in jail. It's amazing how these revelations come up when you're when you're about to go to jail for polygamy. They used to hate black people, but then they got another revelation. And now black people can serve as priests, I guess, in the Mormon priesthood. Jehovah's Witnesses. That worldview New Age. Well, there are different kinds of New Age thinking. Okay. What's the touchstone proposition of the Christian worldview? Top of page 47. Let me read it and then let's see if you agree with it and then I'll I'll explain it and then you see if you agree. Here it is. One sentence. Human beings and the universe in which they reside are the creation of the God who has revealed himself in Scripture. Now notice I could have said. The Triune God. But that would be redundant because I'm we're talking about the God who has revealed himself in Scripture. The basic presupposition of the well was there's a corollary here between the touchstone proposition and the basic presupposition. The basic presupposition of the Christian worldview is the existence of the God who was revealed in Scripture. Now notice one advantage of the Christian presupposition or one advantage of the touchstone proposition. Because of the way it's worded, it gives us access to all of the truth revealed in the canonical scriptures. So what turns out what starts out as one sentence turns out to include the 66 books of the Bible. That's a pretty good move. Okay, now. Some people might object to that. Nash You're cheating because you're slipping in How many pages in the Bible? Thousand pages. The linkage between God and Scripture is quite proper. It is true, naturally, that this particular touchstone proposition allows the Christian ready access to all that Scripture says about God, the world, and humankind. While that is certainly an advantage, it is hardly an unfair advantage. What would be both on wise and on fair would be any attempt to separate the Christian God from his self disclosure. As Carl Henry points out, bless his heart. God, this is a great quote. God is not a nameless spirit. Awaiting postmortem examination in some theological morgue. God is not a nameless spirit awaiting postmortem examination in some theological morgue. He is a very particular and specific divinity known from the beginning, solely on the basis of his works and self-declaration as the one living God. That's great stuff. That's great stuff. Any final decision regarding the existence of the Christian God and the truth, the Christian worldview will necessarily involve decisions about a number of issues related to the Christian scriptures. Since the details of that worldview flow from the Christians ultimate authority. Any negative reaction to one will likely produce a negative reaction to the other. If you don't like the Bible, you're not going to like the Christian worldview. Of course, to turn the coin over. A positive evaluation of one side of this equation should be bear positively on the other. The Christian cannot pretend that his worldview was formulated in a revelation or vacuum. Okay. Now. What follows then and the rest of that chapter is my analysis of naturalism. And you've all become experts on that.