Notes from the Come, Let Us Reason Conference in New Orleans.
Three competing world-views: 1. Scientific naturalism. 2. Post-modernism. 3. Theism/Christianity. (what about African worldviews?)
View is that only scientific or empirical knowledge is certain knowledge. Christianity may be true -- but we cannot know that it is true.
The focus on scientific naturalism has resulted in the emergence of a new personality type: "the Empty Self"
* inordinately individualistic
* passively addicted to entertainment and consumption
* can't give themselves to something bigger -- no one would know what that would be
Three types of knowledge:
1. Knowledge by acquaintance (experiential). E.g., the way we can know a person. We can know God this way.
2. Propositional knowledge. A true belief based on adequate reasons. We can know God this way. We do not pray, "Our Father who probably art in heaven".
3. Know-how or skill. You can know all about bicycles and riding them, but not know how to ride a bike. You can know all about water and swimming methods, but not know how to swim. We can know God this way. Know how to operate in the gifts of the Spirit, hearing God's voice, etc.
Five social shifts resulting from the abandonment of non-empirical knowledge (1930s):
1. Xy - emphasis goes from knowing to "blind faith" The make-up man becomes more important than the speech-writer.
2. Emphasis on character shifts to emphasis on satisfaction of desire. Until the 1930s we believed that we could know what was right and wrong just like we could know that water = H2O. Now we have salvation through sensuality - sex, music, food.
3. Nature of freedom. Shifts from the power to do what I ought (e.g., I have a musical gift, I also have the freedom to develop this gift) to the right to do what I want. Freedom comes under knowledge of reality, but if we can't know reality, then we are "free" do what we want.
4. Shift from virtue and duty to rights and self. The abortion question is framed not in terms of what a woman of character would do, but on what her rights are. Kids in a Just Say No to Drugs class all say they are saying no to drugs for matters of personal fulfillment -- so I can play soccer, etc., not, e.g., so that I don't bring dishonor to my parents, or, e.g., so that I can be a useful contributing member of society.
5. Shift in the meaning of tolerance. Classic definition starts with the assumption that something that really matters "X" is wrong, but tolerated. Again, this assumes that you can know something. The contemporary view is that you are not even to make the judgment that the other person's beliefs or behavior is wrong.
Assessment: An accessible, socially-relevant talk on epistemology without using the term!