Reliability of Senses and Reasoning for Justification of Scripture

A blog post entitled, “Sensation, Reason, and Christian Epistemology” from defunct archived blog, Grace in the Triad. 

“One must presuppose the reliability of sensation and justify it by Scripture. This is a form of non-fallacious circular reasoning. But this results in two non-fallacious circles: sensation is justified by Scripture and Scripture is justified by sensation. The same goes for reasoning: reasoning is justified by Scripture and Scripture is justified by reason. These aren’t fallacious circles because they go out of their plane and gather additional information to prove themselves; i.e., they don’t arbitrarily argue that the senses are valid because we sense that they are, or that our reasoning is valid because we reason that it is. They use the senses and reason to assume the non-arbitrary promises of Scripture – i.e., that God guarantees to maintain a general uniformity to nature, that we reflect His rational nature and will continue to do so based upon His promises (Gen. 1:26-27, 8:22).

Thus, Christians trust that God will provide a general reliability for our reasoning faculties, sensory perception, etc. based upon knowledge that was gained by utilizing those self-same faculties in reading Scripture (Pro. 20:12). Then, we trust that our all truthful and faithful God will continue to uphold those faculties in a uniform way (barring obvious disease or injury) to allow us to take in more information through those faculties as we read or hear the Scripture (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). This is circular indeed, but it is non-fallacious as it doesn’t assume the very thing it is trying to prove in an arbitrary way but takes in additional information. Most importantly, it proves to be the only way to ground intelligible experience in a coherent way. The sensation and reasoning of most people will be maintained by God based upon God’s promises to do so. These promises come to be known initially through senses and reason. On the other hand, our senses and reason can be trusted to give us a generally reliable picture of the external world as we depend upon God’s promises to maintain those faculties to allow us to rightly understand His world through His word. This demonstrates that for the Christian, all experiences presuppose faith and that for all human experience to be intelligible (i.e., sensation, induction, intuition, logic, free agency, morality, etc.) we must first assume the truthfulness of the Christian worldview.”


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