Possible Worlds and Biblical Possibility

A helpful discussion between a Choosing Hats contributor and a commenter regarding the topic of the biblical view of possibility.

A: So I am new to this site and the presuppositional approach. On the matters of certainty I am trying to understand this better. So TAG seems to state if we are able to know anything God exists with certainty.

But what if we really don’t know anything. So what if someone responded that maybe we don’t know anything. The world is an illusion. It doesn’t make sense.

Now I understand that then you wouldn’t know it doesn’t make sense because logic has been forfeited. But isn’t it still possible that we don’t know and don’t know anything and the world just doesn’t make sense we know nothing not even that we don’t know.

B: “It is possible that…”

Who sets the standard which determines whether or not we know anything, or even know whether or not we do?

The only Biblical answer is: God does.

So, by God’s standard, as revealed in His Word, we have knowledge. Further, by that same Word, He is the only proper source of knowledge. Col 2:3 tells us that all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. Since we must believe what Scripture tells us, we not only know that we have knowledge, but in whom it is hidden – whom we also know.

Basically, your theology should drive what you ask and how you ask it here. Think, and search the Scriptures diligently, before you go delving into these things, for the answer to the question, first, “what does God’s Word say about it?” Then, and only then, do you evaluate the question. We think God’s thoughts after Him, and this, I believe, is what is meant by that statement.

A: So if someone argued for a worldview where we don’t know that we don’t know anything. How could that worldview be refuted by TAG.

B: That worldview is self-refuting. There is an argument made for a “world” where: we don’t know that we don’t know anything.

They have argued for a contradiction – they claim we can know about a world where no one knows that we don’t know anything. How do they know about this “world”? Where did they get this information from?

Further, it seems to me that they are saying that no one knows that they are ignorant of anything. While I could succumb to the joke; “How is that different from this one…” Isn’t that saying that none of them know anything they are ignorant of?

However, since this is a fragmentary worldview, it fails to provide the preconditions of intelligibility. Ignorance concerning ignorance is hardly a compelling worldview. In fact, it seems to be the equivalent of saying “lalalala I can’t hear you” – as a worldview. Such a worldview lacks any cohesion, explanatory power, or any conceivable sensicality. So, by the impossibility of the contrary, Christianity is true.

Positive case:
Scripture, as the foundation for our worldview, tells us the following – Per Scripture, it’s not possible to forget that you aren’t omniscient. We all know we are creatures, and fallible sinners. Therefore, it’s impossible to know nothing about such matters.

A: If they were not making an argument but merely saying it is possible to think of a world with no basis for logic or science or the human experience.

I guess that world wouldn’t have any true knowledge but that couldn’t be a possibility no matter how remote?

B: There is a big difference between “conceiving” of an impossible world, and saying there *is* such a world possible.

One says you have a good imagination about impossible things; the other is a truth claim about possibility – an incoherent one.

Where is one standing when they say “a world without knowledge is possible”? Whoever they are, they are standing on ~CT, and are thus advancing the impossible, because CT denies that. Further, the one saying such a thing has confused “probability” with “possibility”.

A: The reason this came to mind is because of the Bahnsen v Sproul debate. Sproul was saying there was a lack of positive argument I think. Bahnsen was saying everything else is leaky buckets and Sproul said how do you know it is not all just leaky buckets. Bahnsen never responded.

Not sure if you heard that debate but that did get me thinking. Perhaps it is all just leaky buckets. I am sure I am missing something. Help me understand, was Sproul just conceiving of this world with no real basis for a possibility? Well is he confusing Probability with Possibility. What does that even mean?

B: Well, what you consider to be likely to happen, or probable, is predicated on what you consider to be determinative of possibility.

If you believe possibility is determined by chance, you have essentially equated the two. If you believe that God determines possibility, chance is a meaningless term. In other words, the problem in this regard is that people try to hold to both conceptions simultaneously, when you can only hold to one. What is “likely” under our view is our best guess, according with our experience – but is *not* that which is possible, just that which we conceive of as likely.

A: So I want to be clear on the possibility you are talking about in regards to our earlier topic.

The imaginary world drawn up earlier that ultimately doesn’t know it doesn’t have true knowledge. My understanding is that God determines what is possible and what isn’t and that is because I believe in the bible.

But it seems so unconventional from the normal TAG since the imaginary world has given up all rationality and coherence.

Is the imaginary world just that, if it stays in the imagination that is fine but as soon as it tries to argue for itself it refutes itself? Does that mean there is 0% it is reality.

B: It is *because* it has no rationality and. Coherence that it shows itself to be impossible. Though we can conceive of it, it is self-refuting, and *cannot* exist.

It’s not different from “normal” TAG at all – that is just ~CT. Because it is ~CT, it is impossible, because CT is the sole worldview to provide the preconditions of intelligibility. Since ~CT fails, by the impossibility of the contrary, CT is true.

That is precisely correct – if you want to think of impossible worlds as thought experiments, and you’re bored enough, have fun 🙂 As soon as it tries to argue for itself, it refutes itself. And yes, since God determines possibility, and that “world” is preluded by CT, there is no chance whatsoever that it can be true. It’s ~CT, hence impossible.

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