Circular Reasoning Thomas J Dewey - RR101A2

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Circular Reasoning (Kamus-J. Dewey)
Course: Course - Epistemology
Subject: Subject:Philosophy
Lesson#: 2
Length: 1:18:10
TapeCode: RR101A2
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

[Rushdoony] Let us begin with prayer. Glory be thee God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost who has called us to be Thy people and given us the privilege of serving Thee. Make us ever joyful in Thy service, confident in Thy government, victorious through Thy word, that we may be more than conquerors and bring all things into subjection to the kingship of Christ. Bless us as we give ourselves to the study of things that are of Thee. In Jesus name, amen.

A word before we begin our session. Those of you who are taking this course for credit, as I indicated yesterday there will be no examination but there will be a paper to be written, not during the two weeks but before the end of the quarter, to be turned in to Dr. Smith, and it will be on some area of epistemology and I think by the end of the week perhaps, you can go over the possibilities as to what you would like to write on. I would suggest that you read (these are in the library) A Survey of Christian Epistemology, which is somewhat more difficult, and A Christian Theory of Knowledge, both by Dr. Van Till. My lectures will be published before another year, but they won’t be available in time for you. Now, anybody have any slips? Pass them in please. Yes. Now, uh, perhaps by the end of this week you will have an idea just what you want to study, for example, the epistemology of, uh, I’m going to be dealing with Camus today. You might want to write on Camus from a Christian perspective, or Justin Martyr, and some of the problems in Justin Martyr’s thinking. This will be for you to decide, but I would like to, uh, know what your subject is and approve it, by the end of this week or the first of next week, let’s say Monday. [00:02:46]

Now our subject today as we continue our study of epistemolo...[edit]

Now our subject today as we continue our study of epistemology is circular reasoning, circular reasoning. We saw yesterday as we analyzed the history of epistemology rather briefly, the blind alley that the natural man has worked himself into, as a part of his strategy of avoiding the knowledge of God. Man would rather blind himself than seeing, to see God. This is the fact. And we cannot realize what we are dealing with as we cope with the natural man unless we realize this. Man would rather blind himself, than seeing, to see God. The whole course of modern philosophy underscores this emphatically. A very interesting and a remarkable figure is Albert Camus, C-A-M-U-S, a French existentialist. His dates are 1913 to 1960. Camus’s insights are particularly decisive. Very few men who are ungodly have spoken so sharply about the antithesis as he has done. As a matter of fact, it is a little startling to read Camus because you feel at points that it is an incredible fact that this man did not accept Christ. Camus said that man is in revolt, and revolt against God, and revolt against the world above grace, and he is gaining nothing out of his revolt against unlimited slavery. According to Camus, and his great work on this is titled simply The Rebel, R-E-B-E-L, as in Southern rebel. According to Camus, there are only two possible worlds; the world of grace on the one hand, and the world of rebellion on the other hand. The disappearance of the one, he said, is equivalent to the appearance of the other. Wherever, to any degree, grace recedes, there rebellion will make its appearance. To the extent and to the degree the church withdraws, or limits its claims, to that degree the world of rebellion appears. [00:06:20]

I might add that just about a week ago, a very brilliant...[edit]

I might add that just about a week ago, a very brilliant historian whom I had the privilege of corresponding with for some years, uh, died and his name was Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy. And in a major work of about twelve fourteen hundred, fifteen hundred pages entitled, I think, Man in Revolt: the Autobiography of Western Man. He makes his whole point that the essence of modern history is a revolution from Christ to Adam, from supernatural man to natural man. And we are trying to get away from the culture and civilization that is built on redeemed man, as with the Reformers and the Puritans in particular, to a society built on natural man. Now of course, this is what Camus is talking about. Two possible worlds; the world of grace or the world of rebellion; rebellion against God. And he says “Rebellion is now basic to modern man and his culture. Ours is society of rebellion against God. And he says unless we choose to ignore reality, we must find our values in it. Is it possible to find a rule of conduct outside the realm of religion and its absolute values? This is the question raised by rebellion.” Unquote. In giving up God, we’ve given up God’s absolute law, God’s absolute predestination, we’ve given up meaning. Now how can the rebel in terms of epistemology, Camus says, find any meaning in the world? And Camus says the modern man can find meaning only in rebellion. He is a creature who is in rebellion, the only meaning in his life is rebellion, warfare against God and against the totality of God’s moral order. The modern age, he said, began with Descartes and his epistemology, “I think, therefore I am.” Cogito ergo sum. But, he says, now his thesis is, “I rebel, therefore we exist.” Man is carrying this to its logical conclusion, his independence from God. He has only one meaning; rebellion. He knows only one fact; rebellion, warfare against God. [00:09:46]

Then he says, the classic example of the modern rebel...[edit]

Then he says, the classic example of the modern rebel, just as Christ is the man of grace, the son of God, the classic example of the rebel is the Marques de Sade, from whom we get the name sadism. One of the most perverted and degenerate men of history, the great pornographer of history, the Marques de Sade called, and his dates were from the last day of Louis the sixteenth through the years of the French Revolution, he spent most of his life in prison. One of the reasons for the storming of the Bastille was to free de Sade. But when they freed him, they couldn’t take him. He was an absolute pervert. He wanted no law, since there is no God, there must be no law. There must be freedom to commit every kind of sexual perversion, and the further out the perversion, the more he was in favor of it. I cannot {?} with the types of perversion that were his favorites, most of you may have never heard of them. He was in favor of murder, it should be legal, every man is his own god, and why shouldn’t I have the right to kill? He was in favor of theft. There was only one thing that should be outlawed, and it was the Word of God and Christianity; totally abolished. He was for the systematic perversion of all things, the destruction of all law and order. He is a great hero of the modern age, his works are now being republished after having been banned for almost two-hundred years. As a matter of fact, the world of the rebel today has its new pantheon of saints, and Jean Jenet, J-E-N-E-T, is one of the saints of existentialism. Jean Paul Sartre, the great existentialist philosopher has written a book titled simply, Saint Jenet. Now who was Jenet? The rebel, {par excellent?}. He was, as a young man, nothing but a punk, a thief, a pickpocket, a professional prostitute, a male prostitute, homosexual, in and out of prison, and early in the 1950’s when he was sitting in prison, he did some thinking and he said, now, why am I here in prison? If there is no God, there is no law, and instead of being the criminal then, I’m a hero of the New Age. And so he began to write books, particularly degenerate and depraved books, in which he portrayed his thinking and saw himself as a liberator. After all, I’m against law, I’m against God. And if homosexuality is a sin, it’s only a sin if there is a God, and if there is no God, stealing is not an offence, homosexuality is not an offence, and so on. [00:13:50]

Well immediately all the intellectuals of Europe said...[edit]

Well immediately all the intellectuals of Europe said, aha, here is a philosopher. And what is the government doing, keeping a philosopher in prison? So there was tremendous pressure by all the intellectuals, the philosophers, the existentialists, the dialecticians, to free Jenet. And so he’s free now. And Sartre has written a book which Dr. Thomas Molnar, the historian at NYU considers one of the most unpleasant books it’s ever been his misfortune to read, because it’s so offensive to him as a devote Catholic, entitled simply Saint Jenet. Now this is what Camus is talking about. De Sade for him is the classic example of the rebel. For him, all crimes are virtues, all things are committed and perversions are to be practiced with zeal, with a missionary fervor, because it’s one way of affirming your rebellion against the world of grace, against God. Camus said further, and I quote, “Since God claims all that is good in man, it is necessary to deride what is good and choose what is evil.” Unquote. In other words, then, in the world of grace, man wills to obey the law of God, in the world of rebellion, man wills to do evil. Now with this kind of faith, a product of the epistemology we were talking about yesterday, is it any wonder that you are seeing a return to Satanism and witchcraft? It’s a logical outcome, a part of the will to do evil. [00:16:07]

There’s a very remarkable book written by University...[edit]

There’s a very remarkable book written by University of California historian entitled, uh, Witchcraft in the Middle Ages, Jeffrey Burton Russell, I believe published by the Cornell University press. Now Russell is a good old-fashioned liberal, began his study with the belief that witchcraft was just a lot of superstition and the Christians were such nasty people, persecuting a lot of innocent, uh, people because they said witchcraft is forbidden in Scripture and therefore these poor innocent people were persecuted. Well, the book is an account of his, uh, disillusionment. My son-in-law was a friend and colleague of Burtan for a while, and, oh Russell, and said that he, as he studied the matter, was filled with horror progressively, because he found that the witches’ cults, medieval and early Reformation Europe, practiced human sacrifice, infanticide, cannibalism, every kind of depravity they could think of systematically. And therefore, their persecution and execution was a very valid thing. Russell ends the book very frightened by the revival of witchcraft, and well he might be, because it’s what Camus is talking about; rebellion, choosing what is evil systematically. And so there are very, very definite hints that the drinking of blood and animal sacrifices and human sacrifices have apparently taken place repeatedly, in some of these witches’ groups across the United States today. [00:18:16]

There must be thus, Camus says, a systematic rejection...[edit]

There must be thus, Camus says, a systematic rejection of salvation. A rejection of God means a rejection of all things that are of God. And he quotes Ivan Karamazov in Dostoyevsky’s great novel The Brothers Karamazov, which was a prediction that we would have this kind of world. Ivan Karamazov says, and I quote, “It is not God whom I reject, it is creation.” It becomes, you see, suicidal, a will to death. The world has been created by God, therefore I reject all of it and I wage war against life. Nietzsche of course, began by affirming the will to live and finally his council was suicide as the ultimate way of saying “no” to God. Nietzsche rejected God’s law everywhere. He said the advantage of our times; nothing is true, everything is permitted. And the burden of this, and I quote, "From the moment that man believes neither in God nor in immortal life, he becomes 'responsible for everything alive, for everything that, born of suffering, is condemned to suffer from life.' It is he, and he alone, who must discover law and order. Then the time of exile begins, the endless search for justification, the aimless nostalgia, 'the most painful, the most heartbreaking question, that of the heart which asks itself: where can I feel at home?'" And Camus observes of the rebel, “Once he had escaped from God’s prison, his first care was to construct the prison of history and of reason.” Unquote. The know what they are doing. Epistemology, you see, has led to this, it’s the peak, how to answer it? Camus says the mind of man being logic, hungers for clarity, for familiarity and for understanding. But he cannot find it in world that is a world with God dead. So he says, and I quote, “Understanding the world for a man is reducing it to the human, stamping it with his seal.” Unquote. In other words, having abolished the predestination of God, man must now institute the predestination of man; the social state, man the planner, instead of God the planner. When you deny the predestination of God, you’re going to have the totalitarian state. This is the anguish of modern man as he faces a world he never made, and of course that’s a famous expression from modern literature, “a world I never made.” That’s the horror, the absolute horror for modern man; that he lives in a world he never made. He’s got to make it, to make it over again so that it can be his. He’s got to take it away from God, and put his stamp on it with his plan in order to make it his world, his reality. He must speak the fiat word of creation, so that just as God said “Let there be”, and there was, man must be able to say “Let there be”, and there shall be in terms of my plan. He wants his imagination to govern reality. [00:23:00]

Now Camus as he analyzed ...[edit]

Now Camus as he analyzed {?} agony of the modern intellectuals over the gap between their imagination, their plan, and reality {?}. With the exception of professional rationalists, today people despair of true knowledge. If the only significant history of human thought were to be written, it would have to be the history of its successive regress and its impotencies. Of whom and of what indeed can I say, “I know that”? “This heart within me I can feel, and I judge that it exists. This world that I can touch and I likewise judge that it exists, there extends all my knowledge, and the rest is construction; this very heart which is mine will remain forever indefinable to me.” Unquote. And he goes on to say, “We live in a mindless, meaningless world. Man is surrounded,” he says, “by a horde of irrationals. The world is not reasonable.” And so he says, as he looks at the problem of epistemology, what can I know, I quote, “The world itself whose single meaning I do not understand is but a vast irrational. If one could only say, just once, this is clear, all would be saved.” Unquote. And so he says, “There is a continual conflict between my mind, which is logic and reason, and a world which is totally meaningless, totally irrational.” And he continues and I quote, “I can negate everything of that part of me that lives on vague nostalgias, except this desire for unity, this longing to solve, this need for clarity and cohesion. I can refute everything in this world surrounding me that offends or enraptures me, except this chaos, this sovereign chance and this divine equivalence which springs from anarchy. I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I do not know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms.” Now this is what, of course, Buswell is saying with his idea of time. The world must be reduced to a human level; the time, or I refuse to understand it. “What I touch, what resists me—that is what I understand. And these two

certainties—my appetite for the absolute and for unity and the impossibility of reducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle—I also know that I cannot reconcile them. What other truth can I admit without lying, without bringing in a hope I lack and which means nothing within the limits of my condition?” Unquote. Let the urge for meaning persist, and yet the demand that it be “my meaning”, not God’s, and Camus says, and I quote, “To think is first of all to create a world, or to limit one’s own world, which comes to the same thing.” Unquote. The world is either my making, or I refuse to understand it. It’s either my world, or I will have no part. [00:27:42]

So the key question is, can we know anything? Now modern...[edit]

So the key question is, can we know anything? Now modern schools of philosophy have divided in their answer to this. But all of them in some form represent a pessimism. Some philosophers, like first of school of Bergson, Whitehead and others, seek to understand the world in terms of some central concept, this is also true of Sartre and Heidegger. Some aspect of man is experience, some meaning to be derived out of man, his intuition, his reason; somehow man is going to find meaning in terms of himself. But this has ended in cynicism. Then you have the Privatists as a second school; Charles Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and their belief that truth is instrumental, truth is what works. Nietzsche held to this; if the lie works, then the lie is the truth for me. Truth is what works. And then third, a school that increasingly is capturing the universities; the logical analytical school, {War?}, Wittgenstein, Carnap, and others. Let me read one quotation from Carnap to give you an idea of their thinking; two quotations from two different sections of his Philosophy and Logical Syntax, published 1935. “Among the metaphysical doctrines that have no theoretical sense I have also mentioned Positivism, although the Vienna Circle is sometimes designated as Positivistic. It is doubtful whether this designation is quite suitable for us. In any case we do not assert the thesis that only the Given is Real, which is one of the principal theses of traditional Positivism. The name Logical Positivism seems more suitable, but this also can be misunderstood. At any rate it is important to realize that our doctrine is a logical one and has nothing to do with metaphysical theses of the Reality or Unreality of anything whatever. What the character of a logical thesis is, will be made clear in the following chapters. The meaning of our anti-metaphysical thesis may now be more clearly explained. This thesis asserts that metaphysical propositions, like lyrical verses, have only an expressive function, but no representational function. Metaphysical propositions are neither true nor false, because they assert nothing, they contain neither knowledge, nor logic, nor error, they lie completely outside the field of knowledge, of theory, outside the discussion of truth or falsehood. But they are, like laughing, lyrics, and music, expressive.” Unquote. So Carnap is saying, our school of philosophy, when it expresses those logical philosophical propositions and ideas is simply saying, we’re spinning a logical construction which is appealing to us. You may like mountains and scenery, or you may like the ocean side. There’s no truth about the mountains or truth about the seashore, it’s just a matter of your taste, and you may like rock music or chamber music, just an expression of your taste. So we spin logical constructions, undeveloped propositions which are inwardly coherent, but they have no relationship to reality. We deal with the world of mind or logic, but the world of facts out here, we have no way of knowing anything about it and we have no connection with it. So all we do relates only to our mind. [00:32:36]

Now of course, this is a surrender of traditional philosophy...[edit]

Now of course, this is a surrender of traditional philosophy. And Wittgenstein said the meaning is the use. Which is exactly what the pragmatists say, the meaning is the use. What does it mean {?}, that’s it. Do your own thing, they said. That expression by hippies didn’t spring out of the blue, it’s a product of modern epistemology; do your own thing, the meaning is the use. Truth is instrumental, what you see on the streets is what begins in the classrooms of philosophy. Philosophy, thus, is very, very closely and intensely linked to the realities of our time. At the beginning of the modern age, the fundamental principle was knowledge is power. What has happened? As a result of modern epistemology, knowledge no longer is tenable. So you have knowledge is power as the proposition of the modern age, and its great emphasis on education as a result. But now you said, knowledge is impossible, so what do you have left? Power. So what is the goal of modern man? Power; amoral power, meaningless power, but power. And one of the most perceptive men of our age was Orwell, 1984. And what did he say was the goal of the socialist state? Brotherhood? The end of poverty? No, he said that’s a façade for the fools. And he said if you want an image of the future, it is this; a boot stamping on a human face forever; power. Now that’s the key. How did Nancy Sinatra become famous? Well she was a no-body whose name was important, who couldn’t make a go of it anywhere despite of her father’s name until her agent persuaded her to sing a song and to make it her song, and what was that? She wore black boots and stomped around the state singing, “I’m gonna walk all over you.” And she was a sensation, because you see, she had caught the spirit of modern man. She had caught the psyche of the product of the public schools; not knowledge anymore, but just raw naked power. So you see what the philosophers have taught comes out in songs that you hear on television. Epistemology is a very practical subject. Faith rests now not in God or in knowledge, but in experience and power, or the experience of power. [00:36:20]

John Dewey wrote, and I quote, ...[edit]

John Dewey wrote, and I quote, “Faith was once almost universally thought to be acceptable acceptance of a definite body of intellectual propositions (that is, knowledge of something that you believed in), acceptance being based on authority, preferably that of a revelation from on high. It meant adherence to a creed consisting of set articles. Such creeds are recited daily in our churches. Of late, there has developed another conception of faith. This is suggested by the words of an American thinker, ‘faith is tendency toward action’. According to such a view, faith is the matrix of formulated creeds and the inspiration of endeavor. Change from one conception of faith to the other is indicative of a profound alteration. Adherence to any body of doctrines and dogmas based upon a specific authority signifies distrust in the power of experience to provide, in its own ongoing movement, the needed principles of belief and action. Faith in its newer sense signifies that experience itself is the sole ultimate authority.” That’s it, and it’s the experience of power. So, what is Dewey’s goal, or what was it? The great community, the power state. This is the great experience, the head of modern man. And he said of course that the greatest obstacle to the realization of the possibilities of experience is our economic regime. And the answer is faith, faith in the power state, faith in the scientific socialist state. Now notice he attacks faith and revelation because it’s authoritarian. But, what does he go on to say? And I quote, “Experience is thus beyond criticism except perhaps by experience.” Unquote. The infallibility of experience, your experience can’t be criticized of course by {?}, but the scientific elite, the power elite, their experience is beyond criticism. So they have their doctrine of infallibility. I’m working on a book on the infallibility concept in the modern world because the idea of infallibility is not just a Christian concept, it’s an inescapable concept. If you don’t ascribe it to God and His Word, you’re going to transfer it to some human agency, and that’s what modern man has done. We’ll be coming to that later on in this course. [00:39:43]

So Dewey has an infallible word...[edit]

So Dewey has an infallible word. Moreover, when you challenge him, how can we discriminate between experiences, he says the valid experience is that experience which promotes continuing growth and interaction. Growth toward what? Well, of course, democracy and the great community. Well, how do you know that’s desirable? We know it’s desirable because by definition, democracy is desirable. Now what is happening here? He’s thinking in a circle and inescapably so. Now the charge that is raised against us as Christians is, we begin by assuming a faith in God and His infallible Word, and we prove everything in terms of what we’ve assumed. So we’re thinking a circle. We’re saying this is true, therefore everything has to be true because this is true. That’s true. We Christians do indulge in circular reasoning, but all people do. The only kind of reasoning there can be is circular reasoning. What is your given, that is your starting point, your presupposition, your fundamental faith has implicit in it your whole world. If you begin with a presupposition of God and His Word, your presupposition, God and His Word, carries within it the implications of the whole universe that He has made and all reality. And so you have the problem, such as the traditional modern philosophy has. But if you begin with the autonomous mind of man, what do you end up with? Nothing but the autonomous mind of man and his experience, that’s all. Your given, your presupposition is ultimately the totality of your world, and you’re going to think circularly within that realm. And if you have only yourself, you’re never going to get outside of yourself and your experience. This is what is blowing their minds you see. Again, that’s a marvelous term, because the hippies have picked out terms that are really as closely attuned to the whole epistemological tradition as you can get. They’re trapped in their own mind, they want to blow their mind, they want to take a trip. And the only way they can do it, the only way they can get outside of themselves is with narcotics, which is no escape at all. [00:42:46]

But this is their total world...[edit]

But this is their total world; themselves. When you begin with a presupposition, your premise contained the totality of all possibility beforehand. With God, all things are possible. But when you begin with time, and put God in the realm of time as {Buswell?} does as we saw this morning, then of course, you lose the {?} possibilities of God, you’re limited to the possibilities of time. If you begin with man, you’re limited to the possibilities of man’s time, and you’ve lost the whole world around you, it’s a problem. You know it’s there but you can’t account for it {?}. This is the crisis, you see, of modern philosophy, a product of its epistemology. Van Till has commented on this, and I’d like to quote what he has to say. “The only alternative to circular reasoning is engaged in by Christians. No matter on what point they speak is that of reasoning on the basis of isolated facts and isolated minds with a result that there is no possibilities of reasoning at all. Unless as sinners we have an absolutely inspired Bible, we have no absolute God interpreting reality for us. And unless we have an absolute God interpreting reality for us, there is no true interpretation at all. This is not to deny that there is a true interpretation up to a point by those who do not self-consciously build upon the self-conscious God of Scripture as their ultimate reference point. Non-believers often speak the truth in spite of themselves. But we are now not concerned with what men do in spite of themselves, we are concerned to indicate that the absolute distinction between true and false must be maintained when self-consciously non-theistic and self-consciously theistic points of view confront one another.” Unquote. Now for Dewey, all conflicts are resolved in the Great Community, in experience, and he says at one point in one of his works concerning experience, “But this abstract statement must be further developed; it comes to saying on the one hand that the criterion of the categories is possible experience, and on the other that the criterion of possible experience is the categories and their supreme condition. This is evidently a circle.” Ahh, we get him to admit, you see, the nasty Christians think in a circle. But he’s boxed himself into a corner, so he says well I am thinking in a circle, “Yet a circle which, Kant would say, exists in the case itself, which expresses the very nature of knowledge.” In other words, minus the true circle. Now how authoritarian can you get? “It but states that in knowledge there is naught but knowledge which knows or is known; the only judge of knowledge, of experience, is experience itself.” So you’re saying, revelation is true because by definition the word of God is true, and he is saying is oh no, you’re authoritarian, you’re nasty, you just don’t believe in reason, you’re putting all your trust up here in revelation. But I say experience is knowledge, because by definition experience is knowledge. Now that’s rational. Ha. You see, he’s reasoning in a circle too, and he admits it, only he says mine is true. [00:47:17]

“And experience is a system, a real whole made up of...[edit]

“And experience is a system, a real whole made up of real parts, it is as a whole, it is as a whole is necessarily implied in every fact of experience, while it is constituted in and through these facts. In other terms, the relation of categories to experience is the relation of members of an organism to a whole. The criterion of knowledge is neither anything outside of knowledge nor particular conception within the sphere of knowledge which is not subject to the system of a whole. It is just this system which is constituted, so far as it is formed, its form is concerned by the categories.” Unquote. Now if I had tried to write a character of Dewey, I couldn’t have done better. Because what he is saying is that it’s true because it is true, and if you once believe it, you know it’s true. Now, this of course is right. Once you accept a presupposition, everything follows from that presupposition. So if you say, man is his own god and his own experience is ultimate, then that’s true for you because by definition everything else is false. But if you begin with the fact that God made heaven and earth and all things therein and is absolute Lord and has given us His infallible Word, then everything that follows from that is true. {?} are expressions of faith. Our faith made science possible. We can account for the fact that there’s a real world around us. Their faith leads them to blow their own mind. They cannot account for anything. Thus, what we must do then is to challenge the ungodly and push them to their presuppositions and tell them, you begin with an act of faith also. Everyone begins with a faith, with a presupposition, and reasons with circular reasoning from that presupposition. And when you say you do not, you are unaware of your own beginnings. This is very true of more and more of them and they are beginning to recognize it themselves. Our time is drawing near to a close and I’d like to leave a few minutes for questions and answers, so I’ll skip over some things. But Doctor Kuhn, K-U-H-N, who is a scientist of considerable repute and wrote a very important work on the, uh, structure of scientific revolutions, published by the University of Chicago Press and also issued his volume 2, number 2 of the International Encyclopedia, Unified Sciences; admitted that scientific hypotheses, as far as modern science is concerned, have no relationship to the real world. They rest on faith, they cannot prove things, they are appealing to faith. And there’s a whole world of facts they do not even consider because their presupposition says that only that is a fact that I say is a fact. So Kuhn self-consciously is admitting to everything that Van Till has said. And yet he admits he wants a real world such as Christians hold. But, he cannot admit it. He wants to use the possibility that there is such a world in the laboratory. So he knows what he is doing has meaning. But to admit the reality of such a world, and that it has its own order and boss, means to admit there is a God with an eternal decree. He operates, Kuhn does, with two mutually exclusive premises. One of autonomous man who’s locked up in his mind and has no contact with a world of facts. And then in the laboratory with a world of facts that are God-created facts and have an absolute law-order implicit and explicit in them. [00:52:10]

Modern man is schizophrenic...[edit]

Modern man is schizophrenic. He involves himself in circular reasoning which begins with a fundamental premise of faith. If he were always true to his premise, he would have to, as many of the philosophers are doing, admit that he can know nothing. We must push them to their premises. They in a sense have spelled the matter for us very clearly. Camus is right, there are two worlds, the world of grace and the world of rebellion. Take your choice. Push men to taking their choice. Are there any questions now? Yes?

[Audience member] {?}

[Rushdoony] Buswell, yes.

[Audience member] {?}

[Rushdoony] Oh yes, Buswell is ostensibly a Reformed, uh, thinker who taught at Covenant Seminary, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, originally Bible Presbyterian, who believes that time is really ultimate, and time is the source of possibility, and that God is in the world of time, so that, uh, he does not distinguish between eternity, which is above and beyond time and where God is, and the world of time. Now, for us as Christians, God is the source of all possibility. There are no possibilities outside of God; no possibilities, no potentialities except what is in God and what God has created. But for Buswell, there’s a separate domain of possibility; time. And God is implicitly subjected to it. Yes?

[Audience member] I think what Buswell says is that time arises out of His very nature. I don’t think he says that time is a separate realm.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience member] He says that this is something like {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, you’re right, except that he then transfers possibility to time. And when you transfer possibility to time, time becomes ultimate.

[Audience member] How?

[Rushdoony] Because the world of possibility is not time, time is not the source of possibility, this is the evolutionary perspective, for the evolutionist, all miracles we can believe in about everything in creation are possible granted enough time. Time works all miracles. It brings about spontaneous generation; it brings something from nothing; originally nothing in the universe and out of that nothing came the first atom and out of that first atom came all possibilities of the universe. Given enough time, says the evolutionist, all things are possible because time is the source of possibility. And time gives birth to gods and to man, to everything. Now, once time is made the area of possibility rather than God, you have Buswell’s problem. Because for him now, sovereignty has been transferred from God to time and in a sense, his god has abdicated. [00:55:54]

[Audience member] But I don’t think that this logic...[edit]

[Audience member] But I don’t think that this logic is false, he’s saying that God is before time and time arises out of His very nature, I don’t think anything {?}

[Rushdoony] Time doesn’t…

[Audience member] Time itself is the source of all possibility {?} Time arising out of God’s will.

[Rushdoony] Well you see, we cannot believe that time is the source of all possibilities, for the simple reason that if we believe in predestination, time is not possibility, the very hairs of our head are all numbered. Not a sparrow falls but your Father in heaven knows it. Where is the possibility in that, you see? The possibilities are in God, and all these things work out in terms of His eternal decree, and time is absolutely and totally a part of His eternal decree, not an area of possibility.

[Audience member] It seems like you could also {?}

[Rushdoony] Oh no, no no, time is not non-existent, time is the area of sequence, of maturation, of development.

[Audience member] But I still don’t see that you’ve solved the problem. I mean, it seems to me that God is in control, He’s in control of time, but time arises, is co-existent with eternity past {?}. But there does have to be a separate realm, and that, you know, that He can still be in control of everything. I don’t see that you can…

[Rushdoony] Well if He is in control of everything, and I agree with you, then time is not the area of possibility, but God is the source of all possibility.

[Audience member] But that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t have His own time, I mean {?}.

[Rushdoony] Well, no, God is beyond sequence. [00:57:48]

[Audience member] Uh, what’s that mean?...[edit]

[Audience member] Uh, what’s that mean?

[Rushdoony] Well of course, that was the point that Calvin said, we cannot, the mind of man cannot go beyond a certain point.

[Audience member] He was like {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, like what?

[Audience member] Kant

[Rushdoony] No, Kant doesn’t say that.

[Audience member] Yes, he does.

[Rushdoony] No, what Kant says is what Barth says, that God is totally hidden and totally revealed. Which means God is beyond everything because He can be totally hidden, He is not the creator of all things who is revealed in all things, and therefore He can be beyond everything in this sense, in that He can hide Himself completely.

[Audience member] But He’s the Pneuma {?}

[Rushdoony] Well, uh, the bell has rung, if some of you want to stay for a few minutes, uh, fine, but let’s give those who want to leave an opportunity to leave. {?} [00:58:54]

[Audience member] Are you ...[edit]

[Audience member] Are you {?} the same principle as Calvin, there’s a certain point beyond which cannot go. As {?} said, God is in time. I mean, shouldn’t we…

[Rushdoony] No

[Audience member] {?}

[Rushdoony] No, because God Himself tells us, I am the Lord, I change not. Now time is the area of change.

[Audience member] Does that say God cannot move, that, how do you explain the experience {?} in time and in space.

[Rushdoony] Oh yes, that’s different. God as the creator acts in time, He totally controls time. So time is part of His activity. But it’s different from God being a part of the world of time.

[Audience member] How can you talk about time? I mean what does activity mean? {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes. True. Yes but you see there’s a difference between saying God is within time and God acts in time and He’s in eternity.

[Audience member] I’m not saying time is a category that contains God, {?} It seems to me that time is something that arises out of the very nature of the middle, uh, the fact that God is nothing. {?} You know, it’s something that arises out of His very nature, so it’s not limiting. ?}

[Rushdoony] Alright now, yes, you’re right, that’s what Buswell says. Now the position of Augustine in his Confessions, Book 9, is that time was created together with the universe. What?

[Audience member] {?}

[Rushdoony] Well we’re not going to…yes, in the modern {?}. Time was created with the rest of creation. This was the position of Calvin also. Now the position of Buswell is that as long as there was God there was also time. That there was sequence, there was development, there was maturity, there was possibility, and the area of possibility is time. So in a sense you have a developing God, a changing God, rather than a God who creates change and who creates time. [00:61:41]

[Audience member] Not necessarily, it seems to me that...[edit]

[Audience member] Not necessarily, it seems to me that all you have to say is that if God {?} He’s determined goodness, He’s determined truth, He’s determined love, you’ve had love all along and love requires, it seems to me, some kind of expression, we accept {?} And if that communication between the members of the Trinity from eternity past, then it seems to me that there would have to be some expression of love between the members of the Trinity, which would not be passive or {?} rather it’d be something which is…

[Rushdoony] Oh wait, there’s a difference between the, uh, Aristotelian conception of, uh, the motionless, unmoved mover, and the Biblical conception of God the creator.

[Audience member] I think so too.

[Rushdoony] So, uh, we cannot say that the position of Calvin and Augustine is that of Aristotle, you see it isn’t. And this is what Buswell is saying, he is saying, uh, Calvin and Augustine hold to this position, and therefore because God, uh, does move, He does act, He has to be within time, and He has to be, uh, a part of the world of time, and time has to be coeternal, as it were, with God. And we have no ground for this in Scripture, time is the world of change, of maturation, and God says emphatically, I am the Lord, I change not. Now of course Van-Till has also cited the verse from Revelation, “And there shall be no more, uh, time no more.” Of course there are some who would interpret that and translate it differently, so I won’t, uh, appeal to that since there’s some question about that, that’s something for Biblical scholars to determine. But, at least we have some indication in Scripture, not only that God is beyond the world of change or time, and also that possibly, time shall be no more. Yes? [00:63:56]

[Audience member] Did God know the difference between...[edit]

[Audience member] Did God know the difference between when He came to earth and spoke with Abraham, and when He spoke to say Paul, was He {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, of course, because God created all things, {?} all His works from the foundation of the world, He is fully aware of the sequence just as He has created it, just as you, if you were to write a novel, and work out a plot with various characters, you would know the whole sequence, it would be open to you.

[Audience member] {?} you would have to have at least an analogy before {?} this particular point, I would not, I could not write a plot without {?} to do it. It seems to me that {?} would well, be {?} plan for eternity past {?}. Well, I mean, how could you even talk about a plot or understanding anything right now, with a sequence involved.

[Rushdoony] Because, you see, it is not God who is created in the image of man, but man who is created in the image of God. There are some communicable attributes of God and some incommunicable attributes. We, as we think out a plot, have to have time to develop that plot. But not so with God. So God didn’t have to have time to say I’m going to work out the history of creation. Let me see, I think this will take me ten years or twenty years of planning history from the moment of creation, from the first day to the last judgment. No, God said and there was, you see. God was beyond time and therefore His Word is a fiat Word. Yes? [00:65:58]

[Audience member] Did God create by fiat, light before...[edit]

[Audience member] Did God create by fiat, light before He created man?

[Rushdoony] That’s what Scripture tells me.

[Audience member] And did God actually do that, was that an act of God?

[Rushdoony] It was an act of God.

[Audience member] So then God did something. Later He did something else.

[Rushdoony] Oh, correct. Right, God acts in time. You see, the idea that, uh, Buswell has, which is so illogical, and which so limits God is that we hold to a double world of eternity and time somehow, he says, then Christ could not have died for us, if we belong to this world, He could never have made contact with this world of time. And of course, this kind of position rests on this whole epistemology that we talked about, which says there are two worlds that cannot make contact with each other. The world of mind, and the world of facts. It’s another form of the same, dialecticism. And this is where Buswell has worked himself into a peculiar position.

[Audience member] I don’t see that, I don’t see that relationship, I don’t see that analogy between the world of facts {?}

[Rushdoony] Well, of course, his position is if God is up here than Christ did not die for us. And this is to assume that God, if He were in eternity; beyond time, could never have {?} time. Which means that somehow he sees time as a totally powerful and independent realm, and he says it’s the realm of possibility apart from God. This {?} with Buswell with so many of his pupils, they do wind up into irrationalists.

[Audience member] I think you wind up with irrationalism if you have God in time and space’s realm, and assume that, you know, Jesus Christ died {?} It seems to me that the contradiction which Kierkegaard spoke of which had an impossible leap of faith based on {?} which is irrationalism.

[Rushdoony] Well, we’re going to come a little later to the series that the essence of modernism is that the world of time is determinist. Is time, the essence of modernism is that the world of time is deterministic. Determinative; that determination, predestination, or whatever you want to call it, comes not out eternity, but out of time. And of course this is Buswell’s position. [00:68:41]

[Audience member] Well it does seem that there has...[edit]

[Audience member] Well it does seem that there has to be a commonality of it. It seems like both could be true, you know, I mean if one {?} from the standpoint of {?} I mean, ultimately we’ll come to grip with eternity, we say that because we accept it on faith, but a person in time could see it as, say mechanistic, determinist for example, and they say well {?} coming to. But the ultimate {?}. You see what I’m saying?

[Rushdoony] Well, you’re, uh, abandoning Buswell. You see you are. Because poor Buswell, he just says it is an impossible conception. This is what we have.

[Audience member] You have a redefinition of the term. The term {?} sequence {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes but you see he’s abandoned eternity in any historic Christian sense. It’s a higher world of time, it’s a world of sequence, a world of change, a world of possibility. But it is not eternity as transcendental and beyond God. It is {?}.

[Audience member] Well, uh, why does it have to be there? What I’m trying to say, why did God say {?} why can’t {?} new heavens and new earth, we’re going to have relationships that, we’re going to serve the Lord, and be in his presence, I mean…

[Rushdoony] Because Scripture tells us there are two kinds of beings, there is the uncreated being of God; changeless, timeless, and then there is the created being of the universe, which is subject to time and to change. Now Scripture is emphatic about the distinction, and the essence of all paganism is that does not have this distinction. It has a continuity of being in which there are gradations of being, the great chain of being conception. And you have hierarchy of being such as you have in Scholasticism and when Buswell says, God and man are both on the time level, he has reintroduced the great chain of being concept and so {?}. So here in time, then existence, with before and after, and existentialism become the end of the road. [00:71:12]

[Audience member] But if time arises out of the nature...[edit]

[Audience member] But if time arises out of the nature of God himself, from it arises out of His very nature, it’s like creating from eternity past just like, uh, I just don’t see that that problem exists.

[Rushdoony] All right, if it arises out of the nature of time, then you and I moment by moment are experiencing a, uh, part of God’s nature. Do you believe that?

[Audience member] No experience is allowed? {?}

[Rushdoony] No, uh, we’ve spent an hour here, we have five to ten minutes, uh, beyond the hour. This is an aspect of God’s nature?

[Audience member] Not necessarily…

[Rushdoony] This is what Buswell will say. We are moment by moment experiencing God’s nature as we experience a minute or an hour or a day. Now I think it’s preposterous. It’s one of the most fantastic ideas I have ever encountered. It really is.

[Audience member] I don’t see what time {?} the mind of God. I can see this existing from eternity past, would have to do with God changing His essence {?} I don’t see that, Him being able to think {?} or act in the beginning so He could create the universe and then later on {?}. I mean I see it all being one, see the time, uh, it just arises out of Him, it’s created out of Him, created by Him from eternity past. {?} And you can experience time {?} And uh…

[Rushdoony] He experiences time, now who experiences time? Those who are subject to change. Now Christ experienced time in His human nature when He was here on earth in that He was born a baby, He grew, He suffered death, He experienced time in His humanity, not in His {?}. You and I experience time in that day by day we grow older, we change, we learn, we grow. But God does not experience time, He has created time.

[Audience member] But you’re supposed to be {?} God’s spirit, you don’t know that.

[Rushdoony] And that’s why you cannot associate God with…

[Audience member] I see that the way your association between physical time that observes change and conceptional {?} time, as, you know, which would be analogous with God’s spirit or conception. Or you can experience sequence, thinking sequence, and yet not be yourself, your being, subject to any kind of change {?}. And, uh, you associate, we have a spirit too, that spirit’s going to be preserved I gather.

[Rushdoony] Well I don’t have a dualistic or, uh, concept of man. I think man is man.

[Audience member] Ok, he’s created a whole being.

[Rushdoony] A whole being, yes. [00:74:08]

[Audience member] Well, what I’m trying to say is...[edit]

[Audience member] Well, what I’m trying to say is; God is spirit, is not subject, would not have been subject to the same kind of change that we could see in terms of physical change. We are {?}

[Rushdoony] Well, we, then spirit changes, and mind changes, my mind is changed in the last year, in the last twenty years, on many things. You see, what is a part of time changes, and the, God is the source of possibility, but for Buswell, time is. Time is the area of possibility, and he has put God in that area, rather than up here. And I submit it leads to very devastating consequences. I think it’s significant that, uh, Buswell has really had no important support on that point, it really is such a major break with our past. Yes?

[Audience member] You, it looks like you’ve found, I mean you’ve based, the idea of timelessness mainly on the Scriptures that say, God saying “I change not” right? Is it not true that, I think every occurrence of a statement like that is in the context of covenant and speaking about salvation, namely I will not change regarding my promise to you. And it’s not dealing metaphysics, so that you’re not talking about the same realm of the unmoved mover not changing would be, you’re talking about not changing in regard to his intention toward His people. I think that’s true, that’s, I think it’s biblical. The context of the “I change not” statement is always covenant.

[Rushdoony] Yes but, uh, you cannot separate any part of Scripture and say this is not a metaphysical statement and this is purely a covenantal statement. Wherever it has to do with being, it is a metaphysical statement, and when God makes a statement about His being, “I change not”, that’s a metaphysical statement. It’s in Malachi, I believe 3:6, and true enough, it has some reference to the covenant, therefore not ye sons of Jacob consumed, he goes on to say.

[Audience member] Well, that is in a covenant context.

[Rushdoony] Oh, sure it is, sure. God is always talking in Scripture in a covenant context, it’s the new and the old covenant, but it’s still a statement about His being.

[Audience member] What basis is His moral being, not His…

[Audience member] Ask {?} too, and it’s a {?}

[Rushdoony] But you see, {?} how could you separate His moral being from His metaphysical being? That’s an impossibility.

[Audience member] Well they’re not the same, unless we used a different category when we talked about that in semantics.

[Rushdoony] Yes, but ethics is a product of metaphysics you see. Your ethics you’re governed by are metaphysics. So that these are technical differentiations, we differentiate for the purposes of analysis. But in reality, when you’re dealing with God, you cannot say, thus far His being goes, and thus far His ethics goes, and here’s the line of division. Well, uh, Dr. Smith said ten minutes and we’ve gone fifteen, so I think it’s…

[Tape ends]