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How Do We Know What We Know?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
August 1, 2022 12:01 am

How Do We Know What We Know?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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August 1, 2022 12:01 am

If you took inventory of all the knowledge you've gained in your life, how could you confirm whether you know anything accurately at all? Today, R.C. Sproul explores the science of epistemology, the study of knowledge itself.

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How do we know what we know. What are the means human beings use to contact reality and to discern between truths and falsehood as we get today.

Let me ask you to think about what you know for certain things that you would like for you because you know they're absolutely true. Know what a reduced thought of how do you know that you know it.

Hello and welcome to the mother illusion of Renewing Your Mind by we were when I first heard Dr. RC Sproul teach my first impression was that this is a man with a powerful intellect and he was passionate about helping people like you and me. Think critically that's what he talking series with featuring this week is called (for thinking/join Orsino sure that every writer of fiction. Whoever picks up a pen dreams of writing the great American novel. The bad news however is slaves and gentlemen it's too late already been done at the Great American novel was written by Herman Melville in my opinion the greatest work of fiction ever produced in the United States was his masterpiece by the simple title Moby Dick were all basically familiar with that story focuses on the work connectivity of a madman Capt. Ahab named after the wicked king of Israel in the Old Testament, who in this story suffers from a particular form of dementia that we call mono mania that is she had a monomaniacal obsession with one aspect of his life. He wanted to capture and to kill the great white whale, Moby Dick. We know from the correspondence that survived the death of Herman Melville's that this story was far more than an adventure story or see story. What makes it so great is its richness in symbolism for at its depths, dimension, Moby Dick is an intensely theological work. The white whale. The albino whale that is the focal point of this obsession of Capt. Ahab represents God and you know throughout the story that Ahab dropped everything all other concerns the commercial venture of the Pequot. He abandoned that when he came upon a ship in distress, searching for those who would been lost overboard the Rachel.

He refused to lend a hand because he had one thing in his mind and that was to kill that accursed way of the chart of the movements of the whale. He chased them over the seven seas, but he wasn't able to find him and so to spur his crew onto greater intensity and concentration.

There's one episode in the book. You may recall, he ordered that a gold balloon being nailed to the main mass in the center of the ship and he posted this.balloon and announce a reward for the first man who cited Moby Dick would receive this small fortune.

And then what follows in the story is Melville examines each of the crew members responses in reaction to the promised reward. He gets inside their minds. The first mate comes and looks at it in the dreams of what he can buy with that goal he thinks of cigars. He thinks of other creature comforts that he can purchase the harpoon are slick and safe off.

I just could win this prize. I can have the largest best most well-balanced and sharpest harpoon in the world, and so on. Each person, ladies and gentlemen had a completely different view of what that coin could mean to their lives, until finally the little cabin boy whose name was Pip he was crazy. He came in he danced around in front of the gold balloon and he said I see you see we all see the point Melville was making through the mouth of Pip, was the idea that each individual each personal subject had a different view of the matter will know two of us view the world in which we live from exactly the same perspective we have our antennae. We have the grid we have the patterns we have our own personal history, all of which contribute to the way we interpret reality as we encounter it now. From a philosophical perspective we call that a worldview, a way of examining the world in which we live in the meaning of our own individual lives. But everybody has a worldview for the philosopher or the theologian perhaps the structure of that worldview has been carefully thought out.

It's been criticized it's been analyzed.

It's been evaluated.

Certain elements of been discarded.

Others have been added. Most of us go through our lives with our own individual way of seeing the world around us without ever given a moment's consideration. This is what Socrates called the on examined life where we just sort of respond to what's there, but a Christian I'm convinced is called to seek the mind of Christ to seek an understanding of his or her world from the viewpoint of the eternal, to see things as best as we possibly can. The way God would have us view them so that the things that we affirm are the things that God affirms in the things that we deny would be the things that God so ever going to do in this series of lectures is to look by way of introduction. At the most basic foundational elements that together make up the grid for the structure of a personal worldview. So in this first session were going to speak on the theme of epistemologists, so that's aware that we use everyday so on our grocery list and so I will define it in a moment. But before I do I want to take a moment to introduce aghast that I have invited to be a part of this series to help us as we struggle through evaluation of the elements that make up worldview. Now this cast is very famous and you will recognize them instantly. The moment I introduce them. However, is not able to speak can't speak, but is by no means dumb is ever here and I'm sure you recognize him and he has been brought into the world by freshman by the name of Rodin and how many of you here know his name, and you all know this is probably one of the most recognizable pieces of sculpture in all of Western civilization. Rodin's what the sink are now were glad to have the thinker with us because he's going to help us as we seek to establish the structures of a worldview that the first thing I observed about this gentleman as our guest is his name. He is called the thinker. I think that having been sculpted in the last 15 or 20 years.

Perhaps he would be known by a different name or a different title if a modern sculptor created this piece of art that I think that they would probably call him the feeler because in our modern world we don't think anymore we feel.

I have my red pen going constantly on my students. Exams and theology class when they say I feel that we should do this or that the vitamin I'm interested in your thoughts about your emotions at this point, not your feelings but it's not by accident that language in our day has changed in this way because we live in a world where preferences have supplanted objective truths truths is no longer considered to be a matter of cogent's thoughtful understanding so much as it is a matter of personal feeling.

A test was made internationally in terms of performances and the skills of mathematics among high school students, six nations were involved. The students of the United States were tested finished dead last in this international competition of mathematical proficiency over there were two parts of the examination. One part of the examination measured how the student felt about his or her performance. On examination, students from America finished first, the students from Japan finished first in actual proficiency, and sixth in their personal sense of how well that they didn't so we been very effective in training people to feel good about their poor performance as the truth now becomes a matter of feeling rather than thinking. Now the other thing I want us to observe about our guest here tonight who is called the thinker is the pose. I don't think that Rodin meant the suggested an order for a person to become involved in any depth dimension of analysis or thinking that one had to shed his or her clothing and be in the mood and I are a little embarrassed that our destinies come this way but we noticed that in this stance or the posture of the thinker that you see that Rodin has not represented the thinker in a posture of casual relaxation. It doesn't have them looking like a couch potato with his feet crossed and he's lounging just sort of half ready to fall asleep one of the principles of those in full in art particularly in painting and in sculpture is what the Germans call the principle of the front spotter out English. The fruitful moment. Rembrandt, for example, before he would paint one of his classic portraits of a biblical character wouldn't go through the process of rendering over 100 various sketches of the person he was going to capture on campus, but he realized that in the final portrait he can only depict the person in one frozen scene. That's the difference between this kind of art and the art we find in trauma or in the motion picture industry where we can capture live action and movement, but so the artist like Rembrandt, Rodin and the others they would think of now.

How can I best express and capture and crystallize the essence of what this person represents in one still frame. Michelangelo did the same thing he wants to do a statue of David.

What moment in all of the life of David will he capture that will express the main and he chose the moment of the reaching for the stone preparing to hurl the stone against the giant and then our imagination fills in the rest of Rodin postured the thinker in oppose of intense labor. His muscles are taught because deep thinking involves a kind of effort that is not only strenuous, mentally but it is actually a physical enterprise as well. Doesn't tell us what he's thinking about maybe thinking about thinking maybe he's thinking about thought. Maybe he's wondering if he cannot do anything for sure. Recently I caught part of the television special that was called the Elvis file and this particular special feature Bill Baxley who was the host and he was presenting the evidence to the audience.

The studio audience as well as the watching audience broadcast television. The evidence that would indicate that Elvis Presley is still alive and that his death was a carefully conceived hoax in an effort to shelter Elvis from criminal elements in this world as part of the government protection service for those who were involved in undercover work to serve the nation and Elvis has been sent into hiding and he said these appearances to the been cited here and there across the world where people think the pacing Elvis Presley and in this discussion. The testimony of two court certified handwriting analysts was set forth in both of these handwriting analysts maintained that writing that has clearly been written since the alleged deaths of Elvis Pressley at Graceland mansion in Memphis that this handwriting matches exactly the handwriting of Elvis Presley came on his own death certificate and other anomalies were brought forth, such as the fact that the coroner's report on the death certificate list of the weight of the dead body that was taken from Gray's magic is 170 pounds and anybody to solve especially his last performance a week or so before his death knows that he was wearing at that time between 240 250, so the case was set forth in, and at the end of this discussion. In typical American fashion. The studio audience was called and also phone lines were given to the national audience to they could call in and say yay or nay well they believed the Elvis was still alive and throughout the course of program they would flash the numbers of how the percentage of the people responding at the end 79% of the viewers of this program indicated that they believed that Elvis Presley is still alive. One of those who was involved in program said soon.

Elvis Presley was going to reappear, but he was coming back. Not as an entertainer but as a spiritual leader.

I listen listen. What I found most astonishing was not the hypothesis. What amazed me was the facility by which 79% of the people who listen to this program came to the conclusion that Elvis Presley was still a lot that I'm taking a big risk saying that because it will be six months before this program is edited and then sent out of the church is and people will use it in study groups, and so on and all I needed here six months, not as I have Elvis Presley's.

You make me like a leaf silly, but I may just protect myself about how this does come back. It doesn't change my level of astonishment at the credulity of the masses who listen to that program really is alive.

The evidence for it that was presented in that program was incredibly flimsy and as I watched it I thought on what basis are these people evaluating the data analyzing the argument coming to their conclusions desolate epistemologies about epistemology is a science that deals with the question, how do we know what we know.

What are the means human beings use to contact reality and to discern between truths and falsehood.

No. Several methods of learning and knowing have been examined and evaluated in the history of Western thought. Certainly the two most famous forms of epistemology. They've all heard of are those that in the broadest generic sense may be called rationalism and empiricism. Basically, rationalism says that the way to truth the way to knowledge is principally if not exclusively through the mind through the processes of thought itself and of course one of the most important keys to rational investigation is the science of logic because the real is deemed to be logical and among hyper rationalists. The logical is being to be real, but will let that for another time. On the other side of the spectrum, the empiricists is so-called because empiricists says unless I can see it takes to touch its militant feel it. It's not real. I don't believe it. That is, the empiricists says the way to truth is through the senses to sense perception.

It's basically more physical than mental, and for centuries the battle was waged between these two schools, and variations of these two school until the two arrived in a very important synthesis in the thinking of Immanuel Kant and the synthesis that was already coming together in a certain sense in what is called the scientific method. We know dogs can hear sounds that are at levels that we can't hear that other animals olfactory senses are far more developed in our own and this is been an agelong problem is anybody who rely simply on the basis of what they see or hear a pacer touch. We know that our senses are limited and subject to distortion. We can get that is why the New Testament witnesses of Christ insist time after time, we are not writing here carefully devised fables or myths were not playing Alice in Wonderland were not speculating philosophically, but we are writing to you what we have seen with our eyes, but we have heard with Ari.

They appealed to empirical test and yet at the same time. All of the data and sensations that we have in a given date would be meaningless if we didn't have a mind and organize them to make sense in this for the rational consent quickly. Logic has no content logic gives no information. All that logic does as the thinker understands is acts as a governor could prevent us from deriving false inferences from the things we experience, how do you how do you study, do you give any stock to logic dutifully. For example, the truth can be a logical seminary since almost everyone comes in their first year.

I said you believe that the truth of God and be contradictory, vast majority of them say yes of course you realize that the blessing they make God a liar, but they come that way because they haven't learned the role of rationality in the pursuit of truth. Christianity is not rationalism but it is by all means reaction so the Bible assumes both the importance of the mind and the importance of the senses, as both are engaged in a process introduction that I will say about this more to this point, only to say I want you to think about thinking I want you to think about how you know what you think you know to ask yourself the question, am I sure about this. Take out a piece of paper and write down on it. 10 things that you know for sure. 10 things that you would die for that, you know for sure we did that in this room tonight, we would find people convinced of one thing that's the direct opposite of another person is of the top 10 things depose convinced somebody's wrong. We are supposed to be people who are committed to the discovery of truths we can even begin the enterprise until we answer the question, how do we know what we know will that may be one of the most important questions we can ask our culture is in chaos because the very concept of truth has been jettisoned is been reduced to a mere preference, and that just reveals that as a culture we have forgotten how to think critically this week on Renewing Your Mind. We are pleased to feature Dr. RC Sproul series blueprint for thinking what are the basic elements for right-thinking RC explains that in five messages and we invite you to contact us today with a donation of any amount so that we can place these audio files in your online learning library ready for you to download and listen on your computer or phone. We also want you to have Dr. Sproles comprehensive series on Western philosophy called the consequences of ideas, make your request today. I will send you the nine DVDs plus will lead the digital study guide to your online learning library.

All of these resources available to you today for a donation of any amount you can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 or you can go online to make a request at Renewing Your Let me take just a moment before we go to thank all of you who are ligand or ministry partners.

You help make this program possible. Along with all of Wegener's outreaches Amber grateful for your prayerful support. If you're not a ministry partner. Let me encourage you to think about joining this growing outreach. Couple things that ministry partners do they pray for is number one but they also give a recurring monthly gift of $25 or more per month and that's allowing us to take advantage of the many ministry opportunities we see around the world. If you like to join us please mention it to my colleague when you call us at 800-435-4343 thank you will. Earlier we heard Dr. scroll asked is how we know what we know, here's another question for us to consider.

Why is there something rather than nothing. RC will address that big question tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind and I hope you make plans to join us

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