A Primer of Circular Syllogism: Reason and Epistemology

Anthony W. Brooks

For as long as man has existed we have asked the same questions. What is the meaning of life? How do we know what we know? Is there a god? Is there life after death? These questions among others make up the complex and robust subheading of philosophy known as epistemology. Which is, simply put, the study of knowledge. And all things essentially boil down to this fundamental question: what is the best way to interpret the world around us?

As a Christian I am extremely focused on these questions. My religion forces me to see the way others answer these questions and causes me to form a defense against such inquiries. Using reason and logic I form a tight defense basing all my answers on the one unshakable foundation of the Christian Worldview. Comparing all other worldview to the Christian worldview, I have the capacity in which to dismantle them thoroughly without even sparing the women and children (though the young female virgins are up for debate).

The study of worldview is simple but tedious. To dismantle an opposing worldview requires you to not only have a thorough understanding of your opponents worldview, but your own. This can force even the most studied Christian to rethink apologetics. The required amount of deep thinking and foundational literacy is astonishing, and I (the author) often find it challenging and elusive, but with the right teachers it is an amazing experience.

Starting Points

The basic difference between the atheist and Christian is the starting point. This is the foundation upon which the respective worldviews are built. The atheist starts with human reason while the Christian starts with the Bible. As a Christian I would say that human reason is what drives our interpretation of the Bible, but the Bible is the starting point for the same reason a road is the starting point for a car, basic necessity.

The atheist will then turn to the Christian and berate him about how viscously circular it is to start by assuming the truthfulness of the Bible and call him inconsistent while the Christian is being anything but. The real inconsistency comes when the Christian asks the atheist why he starts with reason. Because, guess what, the atheist will give a reason for assuming reason. As soon as this happens the atheist loses.

Reason is a dead faith

I’m not trying to be provocative here but I must tell the truth. If your system assumes the validity of human reason from the start it is flawed on its face. Human reason is often flawed and incomplete. Reason is always based on prior knowledge of a subject and not all of the information is often present. It is primarily a faith position to base one’s worldview on human reason. This leads to a form of epistemological anarchy that is exiled to the individual mind. For this reason (pun intended) the only logical conclusion is solipsistic nihilism which is patently absurd.

Conclusion

Provocative as it may be, the Christian reliance upon scripture is its own realm of study, which I am happy to defend at another time. But the basic notion is that the only logical worldview is that which is based upon the fundamental teachings of the Christian Bible. That there is a transcendent God who created all things. That this God is personal and he created everything in accordance with his nature. Everything that we see, feel, smell, experience, taste, do, and learn is in perfect harmony with the transcendent laws that he has put into place. The laws of logic, nature, arithmetic, and epistemology are all a reflection of who he is in his being. And that this is the world he has created for us.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Published by A.W. Brooks

I am a husband, father, student, and classical Protestant Christian. My thoughts hold no authority, but they might help you shape the way you see the world. Who knows?

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