I often wonder about Malchus, the servant of Caiaphas whose ear Peter cut off and Jesus subsequently healed before He was taken away to be tortured and crucified. The bible doesn’t tell us but I imagine his world view was similar to those of most people today in that he lived his life according to the consensus in which he was born and was taught, never questioning the foundations of what he assumed to be true.
That said, Houston – we have a truth problem…
We could be talking about COVID, vaccines, gender, climate change, political candidates, or the existence of God.
It seems that hardly anyone has a coherent epistemology.
Epistemology is the study of truth, specifically how we determine what is true. Coherence means that all the parts of a truth claim fit together so that it makes sense within the context of a given paradigm or world view. For example, a coherent statement in the context of physics would be that if I jump off a building I am going to fall down to the ground every time.
An incoherent claim would be, I feel like some people can fall up.
Slothful Induction and the Bandwagon fallacy are the primary drivers of collective incoherence. Slothful Induction; is ignoring sufficient logical evidence that supports further questioning and investigation.
This is usually accompanied by the bandwagon fallacy where people assume that a narrative is true simply because an apparent majority of people say it is true.
Slothful Induction results in valid questions becoming slippery slope conclusions.
A “slippery slope” is where a person asserts that one small factor or event necessarily leads to or proves a succeeding chain of larger events that culminate in a specific conclusion.
For example. Derek Chauvin was a white cop whose actions resulted in the death of George Floyd who was black. The instantaneous collective slippery slope conclusion was that Derek Chauvin premeditatedly murdered George Floyd because he was black. The court determined that Cauvin murdered Floyd.
It did not determine his motive.
The slippery slope determined it.
Questions taken as conclusions are perpetuated by the False Dilemma Fallacy; only looking at one side and never considering alternative arguments.
The tidal wave of unsubstantiated conclusions causes most people to defer to the “genetic fallacy”; believing an argument based on one’s faith in the source rather than the evidence itself. e.g. “the majority of scientists agree…” Or a similar “appeal to authority”; a form of circular reasoning that determines the validity of a fact or an argument based upon the official status of its source e.g. “The government would never lie to us.”
Because they are the government.
We might laugh when it is presented this way but almost everyone has been guilty of sourcing “experts” and the ubiquitous “they” when arguing on behalf of our biases. Nearly every MSM narrative, subsequent debate, and public discourse are rooted in the aforementioned fallacies. Too often the result is that legitimate questions and questioners get marginalized and the truth gets squashed.
That’s because more than anything, people fear rejection and crave acceptance.
We call this “relationship”.
The subject of COVID and vaccines are good examples of logical fallacies in action.
Why is a virus with a 99.7% survival rate for those under the age of 78 an emergency and malaria that kills far more not? What about bad water and starvation? Why is the reimbursement so much higher when COVID is listed on a death certificate? Why do we need an emergency use authorization for a vaccine that is proven safe? Why do all other vaccines require a 5-year study before they are declared safe? Are these vaccines or experimental gene therapies? If the “vaccines” are proven safe as so many media consumers claim, then why aren’t they formally approved by the FDA? Why is the overall mortality rate for all causes combined virtually unchanged between 2018-2020? Shouldn’t 2020 be much higher? And what happened to the flu? Mind you I’m not trying to debate COVID and vaccines. I still don’t know what is true. My point is that no one reading this knows either.
Hence, the only correct answer is;
We don’t know.
In fact, we can not claim to know the truth about much of anything apart from faith in at least one foundational and ultimately unprovable presupposition.
Don’t believe me?
Try empirically proving that everything you experience doesn’t only take place in the space between your ears.
Your best conclusion will mimic that of Laozi the Chinese founder of Taoism who upon waking from a dream about a butterfly wrote that he wasn’t sure if he was a man dreaming of a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man dreaming of a butterfly. Apparently, Laozi was going to commit suicide but his friends talked him into deferring his plans to write the book of wisdom known as the Tao Te Ching. Tao means “Way”. It begins with “The way that can be named is not the eternal way…”
Today some theoretical physicists believe the universe is a giant computer program.
But I’m crazy for believing Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life…
The point here is that all of our basic presuppositions concerning truth are based on something we have read, heard, or seen in some form of visual media. These presuppositions form the basis for our worldviews.
Worldviews do not change unless the presuppositions change.
That people form opinions based on presuppositions rooted in logical fallacies and make decisions in daily life is bad enough. That 94% of those in the body of Christ apply the same reasoning to their understanding of God and eternity is, in my opinion,
Those born after 1979 when the Postmodernism of Jean-François Lyotard entered academic thought are often unaware that the very definition of truth that we used to take for granted and called “common sense” began to morph into the absurdities we see today.
Today the church is applying the same epistemological criteria.
Postmodernism regards objective truth if it exists at all, as unknowable. In practice, all truth claims are relative. Postmodernists often argue as if their truth claims were objective. Yet like a house built on sand Mat 7:24-27 they have no basis in anything other than group consensus.
Christianity maintains that while many objective truths remain unknowable, objective truth exists.
It is our privilege to search in out. Prov 25:2
I would go so far as to say it is an act of worship.
While the church has always contended with nonessential unknowns such as the role of free will in salvation; and is hell really hot? Today the church is debating and dividing over more foundational issues like the inerrancy of scripture, “What is sin?”, Is Jesus God? “Why did Jesus come?” and
“Does hell even exist?”
Why is this happening? Because much of what the church calls truth is rooted in experiential hermeneutics instead of
Coherent exegesis begins with the presupposition that “All scripture is God-breathed…” 2Tim 3:16-17. It is therefore inerrant. Coherence refers to the fact that scripture does not contradict itself. Any apparent contradictions or inconsistencies are assumed to exist in the realm of our understanding, not scripture itself. Atheists often point to discrepancies in scripture. Yet they can only do so according to their worldview which amounts to their view of our worldview. Their arguments remain incoherent in the context of the Christian worldview which is admittedly based on faith in God according to His word.
By the same token faith in God is incoherent according to a world view that says God does not exist and the truth is determined by us.
All arguments become incoherent in the context of an opposing worldview.
Here is my challenge to you between now and part 2. Step aside from the usual rhetoric, both your own and that of the group with whom you share a consensus. Ask yourself these questions. What are the foundational presuppositions of my worldview? Have I ever taken to the time to think them through or are they simply the result of where and how I was raised. Are my presuppositions postmodern and relative based what I see, hear and feel? Or are they objectively rooted in the Word of God? What does my life most reflect?
Is it an incoherent mix of the two?
What can be said? What will it take?
Malchus is a clue to Part 2