Kelly James Clark One of Research Proposal

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Sources: 3
  • Subject: Mythology - Religion
  • Type: Research Proposal
  • Paper: #13351998

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

He states that "there is never, within Scripture itself, an attempt to prove the existence of God; if proving God's existence were demanded of all believers; one might expect to find at least one of the believers in the Bible discussing theistic arguments." (Clark, unknown). However, Clark does acknowledge that Scripture contains many examples of God proving that He, rather than the false Gods worshipped by people during biblical times, is the true God.

Clark believes this is because the Bible was written during a time when virtually all people believed in some type of god, and that is ill-advised, perhaps impossible, to import that type of approach into a contemporary context. Because Scripture was not written for a modern audience, Clark seems to conclude that Scripture cannot provide adequate support for a modern apologetic argument.

Critical Reflection

Clark's argument is logically unpersuasive. That does not mean that Clark's argument is fundamentally untrue, because one can come to a true conclusion even using false or faulty premises. However, it is difficult to be persuaded to believe in Clark's position by looking at his argument. This is due to the fact that Clark basis his argument that one can have a rational belief in God without resorting to evidence or argument on the premise that God has given each human being an innate capability to understand God. He does not suggest that all human beings have an innate drive towards religiosity; on the contrary, he posits that God has given all humans the ability to understand Him. However, this is circular reasoning, because Clark is presuming the existence of God as part of his argument about the rationality of belief in God. Logically, such a premise calls his argument into question. "The chief concern of logic is how the truth of some propositions is connected with the trust of another...An argument is a set of two or more propositions related to each other in such a way that all but one of them (the premises) are supposed to provide support for the remaining one (the conclusion)." (Kemerling, 2002). The faulty premises that all men are born with an innate knowledge of God is also troubling in the context of a society where people are raised with the idea of God; under those circumstances, it is impossible to assess whether or not people have any innate feeling for God.

Clark's argument has additional weaknesses, which have nothing to do with his logic. For example, he acknowledges that Scripture is sufficiently ambiguous to permit multiple interpretations of its contents. However, he then relies upon his interpretation of scriptural content as the only possible correct interpretation. He states that Scripture does not make an attempt to prove the existence of God, but simply presupposes the existence of God. While this may be true if one supposes that the first words of Genesis represent the first communications between people of faith and others, but that is a faulty assumption. While Genesis does unequivocally state that God exists, it also provides ample evidence that God does exist. Genesis describes a personal relationship between God and Adam and Eve. They both experience God with their senses; they speak with Him on multiple occasions. Whether Genesis should be taken in a literal manner is subject to much debate, but it is clear that the writers of Genesis were providing evidence for the existence of God.

Finally, Clark seems to deliberately misconstrue Clifford's requirements for rational evidence. When Clifford discusses that it is unethical to believe things without evidence, he makes it clear that what he means is that it is unethical for people to believe things without sufficient evidence. Clark attempts to suggest that Clifford would condemn those who believe in verifiable facts, such as the existence of Paraguay. However, Clifford specifically discusses a man's beliefs. Furthermore, Clifford does not condemn those who adhere to facts or beliefs. On the contrary, he states that, "if a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it -- the life of that man is one long sin against mankind." (Clifford, 1879). He does not suggest that humans must personally experience everything before believing in it, which is how Clark represents Clifford's beliefs. Because Clark's argument is rife with logical and factual errors, it seems unconvincing, even to a person who believes that Faith does not require evidence.

References

Clark, K.J. (Unknown). Without evidence or argument: A defense of reformed epistemology.

Retrieved September 23, 2008, from Calvin Virtual Library of Christian Philosophy. Web site: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/clark_kelly_j/without_evidence_or_argument.pdf

Clifford, W.K. (1879). The ethics of belief. Retrieved September 25, 2008, from Homestead.com

Web site: http://ajburger.homestead.com/files/book.htm

Kemerling, G. (2002). Arguments and inferences. Retrieved September 24, 2008, from the Philosophy Pages.

Web site: http://www.philosophypages.com/lg/e01.htm

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