Monday, November 26, 2012

Pride and Prejudice - The Sins of Dogmatic Agnosticism

Recently, I was surprised in a conversation when an agnostic suggested that I may be suffering from the "sin of pride" in regard to my knowledge of and certain proof of the existence of God.  He expressed it something like this: "You seem to have all the answers."  The agnostic also remarked that he was more likely to listen to someone if he were more modest or humble in his assertions.  Now, I wonder if he would entertain such an attitude toward an accountant keeping track of his money.  This is an example of the agnostic's false prejudice.  He thinks that science yields knowledge --  nothing else does.  Of course, this prejudice is neither a tautology nor an empirical fact, so it is not scientific and hence, to the agnostic, not knowledge.  But it is his article of faith; totally subjective -- pure and unalloyed.

My friend's remarks betray the inconsistent and self-refuting presuppositions of dogmatic agnosticism - founded on human pride and prejudice.

The agnostic's axiom of faith (yes, agnosticism is irrational fideism) is that in the religious realm there is no truth --  or if there is, it cannot be known.  A corollary of this is that God - if there be one - is incapable of revealing himself or that he has done so incompetently (the usual and erroneous complaint is that there are contradictions in the Bible) -- and thus cannot be known.  

Agnosticism itself is a religious stance, and thus the agnostic declares his own agnosticism to be not a fact of knowledge.  He is thus a fideist, even though he maintains his agnosticism on supposed "facts."  He operates on these "facts" using the machinery of logic and the scientific method -- two abstract principles which he cannot account for or justify on his own presuppositions.  This makes him an irrationalist, too.  But such is the religion of "scientism"  that boasts of its rationality and reason!

The end result of all this is that the agnostic's skeptical religion has already made big claims about reality.   That is the prejudice.  As Cornelius Van Til has written:

". . . the point we should be most anxious to drive home is that in trying to be agnostic, and in trying to say that they have no need of metaphysics, they have already given one of the two possible answers to every question of epistemology that may be asked. They have, as a matter of fact, said that all the facts . . .  exist apart from God and are able to get along without God. They think they have said nothing at all about ultimate matters, while as a matter of fact they have in effect said everything that could be said about them, and, we believe, more beside. They have tried to be so modest that they did not dare to make a positive statement about anything ultimate, while they have made a universal negative statement about the most ultimate consideration that faces the mind of man. " (Van Til, A Survey Of Christian Epistemology) .

And as to the agnostic's supposed "humbleness" Van Til continues:

"Incidentally, we may point out that, in addition to being psychologically and epistemologically self-contradictory, the agnostic is morally self-contradictory. His contention was that he is very humble, and for that reason unwilling to pretend to know anything about ultimate matters. Yet he has by implication made a universal statement about reality. He therefore not only claims to know as much as the theist knows, but he claims to know much more. More than that, he not only claims to know much more than the theist, but he claims to know more than the theist’s God. He has boldly set bare possibility above the theist’s God and is quite willing to test the consequences of his action. It is thus that the hubris of which the Greeks spoke so much, and upon which they invoked the wrath of the gods, appears in new and seeming innocent garb."   (Van Til,  A Survey of Christian Epistemology).

Such is the agnostic's pride.

To the agnostic, it is the impersonal "unknown" that has endowed him with autonomy, thought and rationality and set him on the sovereign throne as the ultimate arbiter of everything.   Man is the measure of all things.  No matter that such things as thought and rationality would not exist in a godless reality.  The agnostic's stance is that he is the center of all things -- whether there be a God or not.   As C.S. Lewis summarized, pride is ". . . the complete anti-God state of mind." (Mere Christianity)

So, contrary to my friend's charge that the Christian who claims certitude and knowledge of God is guilty of pride, it is my friend who is guilty of pride.  In fact, his charge is absurd since God tells us that such knowledge is certain -- and God is the judge of what is pride, not the agnostic's subjective and arbitrary pronouncement.  The agnostic has no basis for the charge, nor does he realize that his charge of "sin" presupposes God.  The agnostic's charge of pride  -- having no moral justification and basis for the existence of sin -- is self-refuting and futile. 

But then. .  . all anti-theistic thought is self-contradictory and futile.

Proverbs 16:18  18 Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5  3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)  5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;