Transcript of Chris Bolt’s cross-examination of Matt Oxley in the debate “Does the Triune God of Scripture Exist?” (38:25min to 46min):
Chris: Matt, would you say that you are certain that 5+7=12
Matt: Within my frame, yes.
Chris: Are you certain of your frame?
Matt: Within my frame, yes.
Chris: What do you mean when you say you’re an atheist?
Matt: I make no claim to belief in God. I don’t believe in God. I’m not claiming that I believe God does not exist. That’s a positive claim and I’m not making that.
Chris: What’s your reason for that?
Matt: Because I have to see any evidence to confirm a belief in God within my frame.
Chris: So you differentiate between faith and knowledge, right?
Chris: Or belief and knowledge, I’m using belief and knowledge interchangeably in my questions just to be clear. So you would differentiate between faith and knowledge. Would you then say that your entire…How would you differentiate between faith and knowledge?Can I ask you that?
Matt: Faith tends to have no evidence to back it up generally…knowledge…I think is…When you know something you would have to have had some kind of confirmation of that truth. If something you know, you would have to have sort of confirmation of it at least within my frame. Within the empiricist frame you have some sort of duality that confirms something so you’re sensory perception…I see something and also feel it…that’s a dual confirmation of some truth.
Chris: So the framework of sensory perception…how would you say you verify that in virtue of evidence?
Matt: How would you verify it in virtue of evidence?
Chris: mmm hmm
Matt: You mean how would you verify that sensory perception is reliable? That is part of the assumption that you make when you take on the empiricist frame that I’ve already freely admitted there are certain assumptions within science and within this frame. However, I feel like you make those same assumptions.
Chris: So would you say that your entirety of the view of the world rests upon assumptions?
Matt: Yea, I think everybody’s does.
Chris: Okay, and those assumptions themselves constitute knowledge?
Matt: No, those assumptions themselves don’t constitute knowledge. That’s when we build frames.
Chris: So you still claim to know things?
Matt: I claim to know things within frameworks…within those frames.
Chris: So I guess I’m having difficulty seeing how is it that you can claim to know things when ultimately…your ultimate justification…account for these things are just based upon a blind faith?
Matt: Because I’m not claiming an ultimate knowledge. That’s the thing…no one is claiming an ultimate knowledge here. If I were claiming an ultimate knowledge you’d have me by the feet and you could just hang me upside down all day if I were claiming that but I’m not. I’m claiming knowledge within my framework. Any time someone makes a truth claiming that what would they be making.
Chris: What’s the difference between ultimate knowledge and knowledge in general?
Matt: Ultimate knowledge is outside of frames. It’s ultimate. I think the adjective there is good enough.
Chris: You mentioned that you assume…it sounded like you were trying to provide some type of justification for things…you said you assume that what has worked in the past will work now…is that correct?
Matt: Yes, that’s part of the empiricist frame…you induce. You have inductive knowledge about what’s true because you assume that the future will be like the past. Gravity will continue to be at the constant rate that it is. Mathematics will be at the constant rate that they are etc… We build our laws of physics upon these constants.
Chris: You still say right…that the reason you don’t believe in God is because you don’t see any evidence. You said that at the beginning of the Q and A. Then when it comes to your knowledge claims in your empiricism…I think is the right way to put it…you say that this is just based upon assumptions. Why can’t I just assume that God exists?
Matt: I think you’re perfectly in you’re right to claim that. I don’t care if you do, I just don’t think it’s necessarily a wise thing to do. I think it builds a framework and that’s fine. I think it’s just a more comfortable framework than one that just requires you to seek out evidence.
Chris: Why don’t you think that it’s a wise thing to do?
Matt: Because it doesn’t actually require you to seek out evidence. It just requires you to have a philosophical boundary to put God in.
Chris: Do your assumptions require you to seek out evidence for those assumptions?
Matt: For those assumptions…no…but they continue to affirm themselves. Again, they could be wrong. They are self-affirming…
Chris: How do they self-affirm?
Matt: By continuing to be proven true.
Chris: How do you know that they’ll continue to be proven true even in the next few minutes?
Matt: I don’t, I just assume that they will. I’m still making that assumption. I don’t need the certainty you need.
Chris: So you’re fine with saying that it’s unwise to believe in God because there is no way to evidence that. On the other hand, you want to say that your assumptions…you can accept all of the assumptions that you make like empiricism even though you can’t evidence those either. Is that right?
Matt: Let me restate that…I think I’m okay with saying that it’s unwise to believe in God within my frame. It’s unwise to try to convert people within any frame because there is no way to prove God. Even within your philosophical frame, you’re only granting people some sort of evidence based on this philosophical framework that in my mind just doesn’t work. And for a lot people, I don’t think it does work either, but then again, I think that’s totally within your rights.
Chris: That’s time. Thank you.