Drawing Conclusions

From the internet:

Three scientists were on a train and had just crossed the border into Scotland. A black sheep was grazing on a hillside. The biologist peered out of the window and said, “Look! Scottish sheep are black!” The chemist said, “No, no. Some Scottish sheep are black.” The physicist, with an irritated tone in his voice, said, “My friends, there is at least one field, containing at least one sheep, of which at least one side is black some of the time.”

The late John W. Robbins wrote in a tract “What is Christian philosophy?”:

“One of the insoluble problems of the scientific method is the fallacy of induction; induction, in fact, is a problem for all forms of empiricism (learning by experience). The problem is simply this:

Induction, arguing from the particular to the general, is always a logical fallacy. No matter how many crows, for example, you observe to be black, the conclusion that all crows are black is never warranted. The reason is quite simple:

Even assuming you have good eyesight, are not colorblind, and are actually looking at crows, you have not, and cannot, see all crows. Millions have already died. Millions more are on the opposite side of the planet. Millions more will hatch after you die. Induction is always a fallacy.”

Robbins is correct about the fallacy of asserting the consequent but as the following shows, Robbins’ anti-empirical views are taken too far:

John Robbins calls himself a “Scripturalist.” Yet his view that one’s senses can never be trusted and that one never gains knowledge through the senses is actually anti-Scripturalist. A true Scripturalist is one who believes that God’s Word that is PREACHED and READ and HEARD is the means of gaining knowledge.

Here are some of the truths that the view of Robbins denies:

GOD’S WORD

If I think I am reading the Bible, how do I know that I am really reading the Bible? How do I know I’m not reading Dante’s Inferno and just imagining that I’m reading the Bible? How do I know I’m not in a cryogenic state and am just dreaming that I’m reading the Bible? How do I know I’m not hallucinating? How do I know that when I’m reading the words of the book in front of me that I think is entitled “The Holy Bible” that I am not mistakenly reading what is not actually written? How do I know for sure that Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”? How do I know it doesn’t say, “In the beginning Satan created the heavens and the earth,” and my sense of sight is misleading me into thinking the print says “God” instead of “Satan”? After all, according to Robbins, you can’t trust your sense of sight, as shown by optical illusions. What if the Bible is just some big optical illusion? The certainty of the Word of God is destroyed.

GOSPEL DOCTRINE

If God’s Word is not certain, then no doctrine contained in God’s Word is certain. Thus, the essential gospel doctrines are not certain. How do I know for sure that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone? How do I know that God promises His people salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone? According to Robbins, it might all be an illusion, a dream, a delusion, a hallucination, a mistake, a misreading. The certainty of gospel doctrine is destroyed.

JUDGMENT

If essential gospel doctrines are uncertain and one’s senses can never be trusted, then I can never be certain when I judge someone to be unregenerate based on what he confesses. How do I know that the confession I’m hearing or reading is a true confession? If I think someone is confessing belief in universal atonement, how do I know I’m not just hallucinating or imagining what that person said? How can I trust my sense of hearing, since hearing can be misleading? How can I look at a television preacher who I think is saying, “Christ died for every one of you who is watching this, and now all you need to do is ask him into your heart,” and know that what I’m hearing is actually what he is saying? But suppose what I am hearing is correct — that the preacher actually did say that. How can I be certain that this man is unregenerate, since I cannot be certain about any essential gospel doctrine? How do I know for certain that “Christ died for every one of you who is watching this, and now all you need to do is ask him into your heart” is heresy, since God’s Word, and thus gospel doctrine, is uncertain? The certainty of judgment is destroyed.

ASSURANCE

If I can never trust my senses and God’s Word is not certain, then how can I be certain that I am saved? What if the Bible really says that only people who shave their heads are saved, and I have mistakenly read that those who trust in Christ alone for their salvation are saved? What if I am an unregenerate person who is just dreaming I am saved? What if I am an unregenerate person who is schizophrenic and who is deluded into thinking I am saved? If I can’t trust my senses regarding what God’s Word says, and I cannot trust my senses regarding my place in this world, then where is my assurance? How do I know I’m not mistaken about my spiritual state? The certainty of assurance is destroyed.

PREACHING

If I can never trust my senses, then where is the place of preaching? If I am the preacher, how do I know that what I am preaching is the Word of God, if I do not know what I have read in my sermon preparation is really the Word of God or if it is some product of my imagination or hallucination or dream (or just a mistake in what I’ve read)? If I am listening to a preacher, how do I know that what I am hearing is actually what the preacher is saying, since what I think he is saying might be a product of my imagination or hallucination or dream (or just a mistake in what I’ve heard)? The certainty of preaching is destroyed.

CONCLUSION

The view of John Robbins (which came from the view of Gordon Clark) is damnable. It destroys the certainty of the Word of God, the certainty of gospel doctrine, the certainty of judgment, the certainty of assurance, and the certainty of preaching. It hacks down the very foundations of Christianity. God gave us senses as a means through which to obtain truth. And true Christians are CERTAIN that what we are reading is the Word of God, are CERTAIN of essential gospel doctrine, are CERTAIN when we judge those who confess a false gospel to be lost, are CERTAIN that we are saved, and are CERTAIN that preaching is a means of conveying the truth.

“Then faith [is] of HEARING, and HEARING through the WORD OF GOD.” (Rom. 10:17). I’m CERTAIN that this is the truth.[written by Marc D. Carpenter]

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