Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Matrix-Illusion and True Knowledge

Occasionally, apologists encounter discussions that all of reality is imaginary, as envisioned in several science fiction stories. (In one,our reality was the result of another being's dream, and it was waking up. They had to lull it back to sleep.) Sometimes the self-refuting Boltzmann Brains thought experiment is used. Another concept is drawn from The Matrix. How do we experience reality?

The study of knowledge and the reliability of our senses lead to many discussions. Only the biblical presuppositional method is coherent.
Credit: FreeDigitalImages / Stuart Miles
Presuppositional apologists will often ask unbelievers how they know what is real, and how they can account for their epistemology (the study of knowledge). How can we know that what we perceive through our senses is real or are we in a Matrix-like reality? Atheists appeal to their senses, but even without those imposed Matrix-illusion scenarios, this is not reliable as a universal principle. For example, someone with a mental illness or other altered state of consciousness may "see" and "experience" things that do not actually exist. This indicates using the senses to define reality is insufficient, and therefore cannot apply to everyone everywhere.

Presuppositional apologists show that the biblical worldview explains the necessary preconditions of human experience. Unbelievers resort to viciously circular arguments, inconsistency, and arbitrary assertions that fall apart upon serious examination. One angry atheist was unable to explain or defend his worldview, and was content to irrationally say something along the lines of, "It works for me".

Some classical or evidential apologists (the differences between the two are too subtle to discuss here) dislike or even oppose presuppositional apologetics. This is unfortunate, because evidentialists are disregarding the Bible that they are claiming to defend. Essentially, the condition of the unregenerate person (both spiritual and intellectual) is ignored and appeals are made to their pride: the unbeliever is judging Almighty God who is holy and righteous to determine if God is worthy of praise and worship!

Dr. Jason Lisle had a pair of articles where he was responding to an article by Dr. Richard Howe which was in turn an attempted refutation of Lisle's views. It did not go well for Howe. The articles linked below are lengthy, but note that one stands on the Word of God, the other uses logical fallacies. You can learn about logic, philosophy, and how presuppositional apologetics operates in a biblical manner.
Seven years ago, I participated in a written debate followed by a panel discussion on the topics of apologetic method and the age of the earth.  It was a strange combination of topics, and yet I argued that the common thread between both was biblical authority.  Namely, if a person has a high view of Scripture, taking it as his ultimate standard and interpreting it exegetically, he should employ a presuppositional approach to apologetics and should be a biblical (“young-earth”) creationist. 
. . .
One of the problems I see with Howe’s philosophy is that it is ultimately unjustified.  That is, if all knowledge begins with sensory experience, then how do we know that sensory experience is basically reliable (true to reality)?  This cannot be proved by sensory experience since this is the very issue in question.  And if it is proved by some other standard, then sensory experience is not truly the foundational beginning of knowledge.
If you're ready to begin, get comfortable, maybe get each article for your ebook reader (this service has a download button to convert into several formats), and get ready to work both your mind and spirit. How do I Know that I Know? – a Response (Part 1) and How do I Know that I Know? – a Response (Part 2).