A Reply to Matthias on "Analogous Knowledge"
In my blog Confessions of a Vantillian Subjectivst, I noted that “there are fundamental qualitative differences between man’s knowledge and the Christian god’s so-called ‘knowledge,’” focusing on the antithetical nature of their respective subject-object relationships (namely the primacy of existence in the case of man, and the primacy of consciousness in the case of the Christian god, given Christianity’s descriptions of it).
In essence, I argued that
(a) since man is neither omniscient nor infallible, he needs a means of gathering and validating his knowledge, and since the objects of his knowledge are not creations of his conscious activity or conform to his conscious intensions, he need to look outward at the world to acquire knowledge of these objects, which means that the method by which he acquires and validates his knowledge must be objective in nature (e.g., not based on his emotions, preferences, likes or dislikes, wishes, commands, imagination, dreams, etc.), and
(b) since the Christian god is supposed to be both omniscient and infallible, it would not need any means of gathering and validating knowledge, and since the objects of its “knowledge” are supposed to be creations of its conscious activity and conform to its conscious intensions, it would not need to look outward for the content of its “knowledge”
On the contrary, what we have here is a fundamental antithesis between how and what man actually knows (he knows things that exist independently of his consciousness by means of looking outward) and how and what the Christian god is said to “know”(it “creates” the objects of its consciousness by first looking inward and essentially wishing them into existence and “knows” them automatically for all eternity without any need for an objective process of acquiring and validating its “knowledge”).
I have enlarged on these points in my blog A Reply to Matthias on Objective Knowledge vs. the Subjectivism of Theism Given the facts that,
(i) for man, (a) the world of objects exists independently of his conscious activity, (b) he must acquire awareness of those facts by looking outward (as opposed to looking inward at his own conscious activity, such as wishing, imagining, emoting, hoping, etc.), (c) he must identify and integrate what he perceives by forming concepts which are based on what he discovers by looking outward, and (d) he must validate what he identifies and integrates by means of reason, and
(ii) given Christianity’s description of the Christian god as (a) a consciousness which creates the world of objects by an act of will, (b) to whose conscious dictates the objects of the world conform, (c) which is supposed to be omniscient and therefore already knows everything, (d) whose “thoughts” create whatever exists distinct from itself, (e) which does not have to either acquire or validate its knowledge by any process (including an objective process – it’s already omniscient and infallible), and (f) which does not need to condense data into conceptual form in order to retain it in its consciousness
My view is that Christians in general (and presuppositionalists in particular) who claim that there is some analogy between man’s knowledge and the Christian god’s “knowledge,” do so in ignorance of two crucially important areas of philosophical inquiry, namely:
1. The issue of metaphysical primacy – i.e., the relationship between consciousness and its objects (something we never learn about by reading the Christian bible); and
2. The nature of concepts and the means by which man’s forms them on the basis of facts which he discovers in the world by looking outward at it (again, another topic one will never learn about by reading the Christian bible).
In the hands of modern-day thinkers, the primitive philosophy that is Christianity steers apologetic treatments well clear of objectively grasping basic truths in both the issue of metaphysical primacy and concept theory. In fact, presuppositionalists themselves have wandered so far from what knowledge actually is that their pronouncements bear no recognizable relation to man’s means of knowing and the source from which he derives knowledge. Consider for example the following statement written by Greg Bahnsen (Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 230):
What we must take account of is the fact that God does not discover truths about Himself or about the world and history. Nor does He observe data (receive sensations, etc.) that He organizes into interpretation. Rather, God is the “original knower” in that He has comprehensively known Himself from all eternity and has created the world, as well as planning every detail of history, according to his own “pre-interpretation.” He is and He makes the truth that man comes to know. He did not simply find out the truth earlier, more intuitively, or in greater scope than man. He is the Creator, and man is the receiver. Thus, God’s interpretation of the world and history is constructive of that world and history, whereas man properly interprets (or knows) the world and history, he is “reconstructive” of God’s original interpretation or thinking about them. The same holds for truths about God or man: man’s self-knowledge and theological knowledge are gained by “receptive reconstruction” of what God originally knows.
By contrast, however, man does discover truths about himself, about the world, about history; man does observe data and “receive sensations”; man can learn, and he can change himself in many ways that neither the Christian god nor a rock can. Thus we can safely say that the Christian god has more in common with a plain old rock than it does with man.
Bahnsen continues (Ibid., pp. 231-232):
God’s knowledge is different from man’s with respect to the subject (the knower) and the act of knowing.
By contrast, man must look outward just to acquire awareness of the objects of his knowledge (while looking inward without reference to what exists independently of consciousness strands the mind in the wilderness of wishing, emotion and imagination). The objects of man’s knowledge, whether it’s trees, automobile transmissions, a sales report, the Declaration of Independence, etc., exist independently of his conscious activity, and they do not conform to that activity. To have knowledge of these things, man must perform specific mental actions with regard to what he perceives, including concept-formation and integration of that content into the sum of his knowledge.
The contradiction between these two scenarios – man’s knowledge, the manner in which he acquires and validates it, the form in which he retains it vs. what Christianity claims on behalf of its god’s conscious content – lies at the foundation of it all, at the level of metaphysical primacy. On man’s side, we have the primacy of existence: the objects of knowledge exist independent of man’s conscious activity. On the Christian god’s side, we have the primacy of consciousness – the objects of knowledge depend on and conform to the conscious intensions of the Christian god. And since the Christian god is said to have created man in the first place, the ultimate starting point here is a starting point premised on the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
Bahnsen himself makes it clear that, on the Christian view, man’s acquisition of knowledge is passive in nature - not an active process: man’s knowledge is something he “receives” from a personal source which chooses to bestow it, in whatever measure, not actively acquires, validates, and integrates by an active process which he performs volitionally on his own. And at best it would have to be this way given the primacy of consciousness metaphysics on which “knowledge” as Christianity imagines it would depend. Knowledge of reality necessarily corresponds to the objects known. But if those objects depend on and conform to some being’s conscious intensions, there would be no rational way for man (who must look outward to acquire and validate his knowledge) to discover the true nature of the objects of knowledge and reliably expect the nature of those objects to remain causally stable when those objects are continually conforming to whatever the ruling consciousness happens to be determining them to be. Since on such a view all causality ultimately reduces to divine whim (water is water one moment, then wished into wine the next; a man walks successfully on unfrozen water one moment, then starts to sink the next, etc.), there would be no objective basis for conceptual integration whatsoever.
Such a view necessarily strands man’s mind to the immediately perceptual level of witnessing concretes firsthand, with no basis to draw generalizations about the nature of entire classes of objects beyond his immediate experience. For instance, one could not, on the Christian view, hold that donkeys do not speak human languages; it may be the case that most do not, but Christianity requires the believer to halt the conceptualization process by allowing for the possibility that at least one or more donkeys have spoken human language, because the ruling consciousness wished it so and a storybook held to be sacred says someone once witnessed this. Bahnsen tells us that the Christian god “could make the stones cry out” (Always Ready, pp. 109-110), which means we would be wrong to induce the generalization that rocks do not cry.
Consequently the Christian believer, having to allow for whatever possibilities the primacy of consciousness metaphysics may imply for the world, has no consistent basis to discriminate between fact and absurdity. If a person claims that his donkey talked to him or that a stone in his garden started crying out, or that he walked on unfrozen water or that the water he had put into a pitcher turned into wine, the Christian would have no stable philosophical basis on which to dispute such claims. He would have to accept these and other such claims as entirely possible and take the attitude, “Well, I wasn’t there... the Lord works in mysterious ways! Praise the Lord!” Given what little epistemological guidance Christianity does offer (as whatever that might be would have to be subordinated to teachings such as Psalms 115:3, which states: ”But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” and Bahnsen’s “God’s thoughts make the world what it is and determine what happens” [Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 243]), the believer would have no way of knowing either way whether such claims should be believed. It might as well be a 50/50 choice for him: “Do I believe it, or not?” Even Matthias’ own principle (namely that believers “conceive of how reality must be in light of how God is”) seems to offer no help here whatsoever. The believer may as well toss a coin. But then he risks the hazard of doubting a miracle or assenting to demonic suggestion. He would have no objective basis of determining either way. Even if he chooses simply not to think, he risks defying what the Christian god, for all he knows, may really want him to do.
This just underscores the fact that the Christian worldview, premised as it ultimately is on the primacy of consciousness, requires that the believer allow for utter randomness in place of conceptual integration in what he accepts as “knowledge,” all due to the dogmatic assertion, itself premised in the imagination, that a supernatural consciousness could at any time come along and completely revise anything the believer has accepted about knowledge.
The bottom line here is that the primacy of existence (characterizing the relationship between man’s consciousness and its objects) and the primacy of consciousness (characterizing the relationship between the Christian god and its objects) cannot be integrated without contradiction, for at root they are diametrically opposed metaphysical viewpoints with respect to the subject-object relationship.
This constitutes an abysmal abuse of man’s capacity for conceptual integration. Premising knowledge on metaphysical subjectivism can only mean that there is ultimately no objective input on which man can form his concepts, which means: there would be no objective basis for his knowledge. By divorcing his conceptualizations from objective input, the open-endedness of the believer’s concepts is no longer anchored to reality. Thus the believer is held captive to mere hearsay as the source of whatever he accepts as “knowledge,” and even here he is epistemologically lost and ultimately abandoned by his worldview to psychological turmoil. This is modeled throughout the Old and New Testaments. The believer is to accept the “testimony” of supposed “eyewitnesses” as the determinative source of what he calls “knowledge,” regardless of his lack of understanding, regardless of its direct conflict with what he has already discovered about the world. Jesus’ own disciples are repeatedly depicted as failing to understand their master’s teachings when he was right there with him. As Michael Morrison of Grace Communion International puts it, “Although they had a perfect Teacher, they often failed to understand him correctly” (Disciples Who Didn’t Understand). But “Scripture” anticipates with Proverbs 3:5, which states: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” One’s “own understanding,” generated as it naturally is on the basis of looking outward at reality, is to be subordinated to what one discovers by looking inward and “conceiv[ing] of what must be in light of what God is.”
Thus if someone says “I saw Jesus risen from the dead,” the believer is to take this over any factual input he might gather from the world as “truth,” even if that factual content shows consistently and without exception that human beings do not come back to life after being dead for three days (or longer, as in the case of the “saints” rising from their graves in Mt. 27:52-53). The god that the believer enshrines in his imagination is surely capable of raising people from the dead if it wants to. No mere fact – which is imagined to have been created by the same deity anyway (“every fact is what it is because God has said it is what it is” [Chris Bolt, “Redemption in Apologetics,” The Portable Presuppositionalist, p. 162]) – is sufficient to challenge the theistic program.
Thus we can see the epistemological causes as well as their consequential fallout of the irreconcilable antithesis between faith and reason: faith incapacitates man’s conceptual faculty by denying man’s need for objective input. This is nothing short of complete epistemological suffocation. Faith begins by looking inward into the contents of one’s emotions, wishing, imagination, etc., and determining what is “truth” on this basis (cf. “We conceive of how reality must be in light of how God is”). To whatever extent faith can be said to make use of logic, it is at best deduction without reference to reality, which leads to delusion, not knowledge.
A poignant illustration of deduction without reference to reality would look like the following (cf. Romans 10:9):
Premise 1: If I confess with my mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, then I will be saved.
Premise 2: I confess with my mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead.
Conclusion: Therefore, I am saved!
Does anything we find in reality by looking outward at the world of facts tell us that any premise in the above syllogism is true? Of course not. Believers get this from a storybook which they deem sacred, and yet its own authors could themselves have only arrived at such notions by looking inward and calling what they imagine “divine revelation.” Indeed, how exactly would one distinguish “divine revelation” from something he may merely be imagining? The apostle Paul, who was the most prolific single author of the New Testament, nowhere explains this, but in fact claims at many points that he was passing on what he “received” by means of revelations. Later evangelists tried to provide more substance to the Christian story by concocting stories of people who traveled around with Jesus and actually witnessed him performing miraculous stunts, things that Paul nowhere alludes to. But as we saw above, even they are portrayed as not understanding what they witnessed firsthand.
Religious faith cuts off the human mind at the brain stem. We “receive sensations,” but we are not to process them beyond this. Rather, we are to “receive” what is erroneously called “knowledge” that has been “pre-interpreted” by a being which we can only imagine. The facts we observe in the world by looking outward are at best to be taken as tentative circumstances that obtain temporarily owing to their dependence on a cosmic mind which is not only said to have “created” them, but which also “sustains” them according to its will, which the human mind is to regard as incomprehensible and inscrutable. The believer is to suppose that “with God all things are possible” (Mk. 10:27; reaffirmed in Mt. 19:26). Contrast this with the moderns who check out on knowing anything with certainty and excuse it by saying, “Well, anything’s possible.” Can deceased persons rise from the dead and crawl out of their graves? Well, if the sacred storybook says this is possible, then we are to accept it as a real possibility; even more so if it claims that this actually happened. Can man walk on unfrozen water? Well, if the sacred storybook says this is possible, then we are to suppose that it really can happen; even more so if it claims this really did happen. Can a man command a mountain to cast itself into the sea, and the mountain actually obeys such a command? If the sacred storybook says this is possible, then we are to suppose that it really can happen. (The only reason why we don’t see this is because apparently believers either do not have enough faith, or they say there is no reason to attempt this, thus indicating the purposelessness of such a teaching.)
Thus, as I stated in my blog Confessions of a Vantillian Subjectivist:
there are fundamental qualitative differences between man's knowledge and the Christian god's so-called "knowledge," as I have indicated above. It's not simply a matter of degrees of knowledge (one possessing more than the other), but the relative subject-object orientations of the two kinds of consciousness involved in Warren's working model: the Christian god's consciousness (the subject holds primacy over the object) vs. man's consciousness (the objects hold primacy over the subject). Two wholly contradictory standards are thus endorsed at the heart of Christian theism.
If they’re not ontologically equivalent in their opposition (and they’re not, per the Creator/creature distinction) they cannot be said to be contradictory, except only apparently so. This, Van Til terms "paradox."
The contradiction between the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness is most prominently evident when an individual affirms some position which assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics as factually true. This is the case because of the following:
a) When an individual affirms that something is the case (e.g., “Topeka is the capital of Kansas”), he is implicitly affirming that this is the case independently of his own conscious activity (e.g., his wishes, his preferences, his likes or dislikes, his feelings, his imagination, his dreams, etc.). He is not saying (e.g.,) “Topeka is the capital of Kansas because I say it is” or “because that’s what I want to be the case.” Moreover, he is implying that this is the case regardless of what anyone else wishes, prefers, likes or dislikes, imagines, feels,, etc., as well. Thus he performatively makes use of the primacy of existence metaphysics in the very act of making the affirmation in question: that which is the case, is the case independent of anyone’s conscious activity. The appropriate task of consciousness assumed here is namely the awareness and identification of what happens to be independent of its own conscious activity. In this way an affirmation is being made in an effort to maintain objectivity as the norm in the subject-object relationship.
b) When the content of that claim affirms the existence of a consciousness which creates its own objects and/or to whose conscious intensions those objects conform (cf. the Christian god), he is affirming the opposite metaphysics, namely the primacy of consciousness. This would essentially constitute the affirmation that subjectivism is the norm in the subject-object relationship, since given such a consciousness, the subject of consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over its objects. The task of this proposed consciousness is not mere awareness and identification of what happens to be, but the creation and control of whatever states of affairs it brings into existence and makes what they are according to its own conscious intensions. In such a case, the individual would be explicitly saying that existents, facts, the various states of affairs which obtain in the world, etc., actually do depend on and conform to someone’s conscious activity while at the same time performatively implying that this is the case independently of anyone’s conscious activity (as indicated in a) above).
Thus we have two completely contradictory metaphysics endorsed simultaneously by the same mind in the very act of affirming some ideational content which assumes the primacy of consciousness (e.g., “God exists”) as truth. This cannot be resolved by simply saying that the primacy of consciousness obtains in the case of one mind (e.g., “the Creator”) while the primacy of existence obtains in the case of another (e.g., “the creature”). An attempt to affirm both results in mixed metaphysics - i.e., an attempt to integrate two diametrically opposite and incompatible metaphysical viewpoints into a single worldview. This would be the same thing as affirming both subjectivism and objectivity as the proper norm in regard to the subject-object relationship, which is an irreconcilable contradiction. All claims to knowledge would have to defer to the dictates of the ruling consciousness, and who would know what those are other than the ruling consciousness itself?
The primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness cannot be integrated without contradiction, and Matthias offers nothing here to suppose that they can be so integrated. A consciousness operating on the primacy of existence identifies and integrates the objects it perceives as objects which exist and are what they are independent of conscious activity. If, for example, I perceive an object and identify it as a book, my identification of this can only be correct if the principle of objectivity obtains. But the primacy of consciousness constitutes a frontal assault on the principle of objectivity, for it holds that the objects of consciousness depend on and conform to conscious intensions. Thus if I perceive an object and identify it as a book, the ruling consciousness could alter it at any time; suddenly the book is a doorknob, a mushroom or an ocean liner. What Christian would deny his god the power to alter a book in such radical fashion? Christians might object that their god would not or at any rate does not alter things in this manner. Indeed, if their god is merely imaginary, we would not expect such alterations of reality to be taking place. Thus whatever excuse they may come up with to explain their god’s not altering things in such radical fashion simply underscores the fact that the objects of consciousness exist and are what they are independent of conscious activity, and thus we again find that we have no alternative but to imagine said god.
Since the irresolvable tension between the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness is present already at the level of the relationship between consciousness and its objects, Matthias’ objection that they are not “ontologically equivalent in their opposition” is unsustainable. The problems for the theistic worldview are only compounded by the affirmation of the “Creator/creature distinction,” since this in essence is saying that the subjective orientation between consciousness and its objects (i.e., the position that the subject of consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over its objects) is the ultimate metaphysical condition to all existence. In other words, metaphysical subjectivism is the starting point in Christian metaphysics. Christians do not explain how objectivity can arise from subjectivism. Subjectivism rules out objectivity from the very outset, choking it at its roots and incapacitating a mind from making objective identifications. Indeed, if the objects being identified find their origin in the mind doing the identifying in the first place, there’s no possibility for an objective standard to apply. The “Creator/creature distinction” does not overcome this since, as Christianity teaches, the ruling consciousness can still alter whatever objects it has created at will - e.g., Jesus turning water into wine in John chapter 2. Since the identity of any object distinct from the ruling consciousness is on this view dependent on the ruling consciousness’ intensional activity to begin with, any act of identifying performed by the ruling consciousness is no less arbitrary (i.e., lacking any objective standard whatsoever) than the its original creative actions or subsequent alterings of objects.
Of course, while these conflicts, tensions and contradictions do in fact afflict theistic metaphysics, we should not ignore the imaginative nature of such a consciousness to begin with. All evidence that we discover in the world about the nature of consciousness confirms consistently and absolutely that consciousness is biological in nature. Whether it is human consciousness, canine consciousness, avian consciousness, reptilian consciousness, insect consciousness, etc., all objectively verifiable instances of consciousness demonstrate that conscious activity is not possible without sensory organs and some central nervous system of some kind integrating their conductivity of stimuli from the external world.
Christianity of course affirms that its god is a conscious being, and yet it nowhere explains how it could be conscious of anything, let alone create its own objects by an act of will. Indeed, no example of objectively verifiable consciousness that we find in reality possesses the ability to create objects which can exist as things distinct from itself. No consciousness which we discover in reality by looking outward demonstrates an ability to zap physical objects into being from the contents of its conscious activity. Of course, we can imagine such a consciousness. But what objective evidence even remotely suggests that such a consciousness is possible, let alone actually exists? No apologists whose work that I have examined have ever even paused over this problem, let alone addressed it.
In my blog, I wrote:
It will not do for the Christian to say that man's knowledge is 'analogous' to the Christian god's supposed 'knowledge' by pointing to similarities that simply aren't there.
Of course to say something that isn't there is there is absurd. But the illustration I gave above easily dispels your assertion that they aren't.
Of course, the Christian view is not just that man’s knowledge is “analogous” to the “knowledge” it claims its god possesses, as though this were some happy coincidence. On the contrary, as we saw above, they are claiming that there exists some fundamental similarity between the two on the basis of the claim that man’s knowledge is a “’receptive reconstruction’ of what God originally knows,” and that this “receptive reconstruction” is something man “receives” by “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” But it should be clear now that such views arise ultimately from a profound lack of understanding of the issue of metaphysical primacy as well as the nature of concepts and the means by which man forms them. A rational man thinks his own thoughts, using his own mind, identifying facts that he himself observes by looking outward at the world and conforming the content of his consciousness objectively to the input of his awareness of a reality that exists and is what it is independent of his wishing, imagination, emotions, dreams, preferences, likes and dislikes, temper tantrums, and the like. The very words “thinking God’s thoughts after Him” represent a wholesale dismissal of reason precisely due to its preference for looking inward over looking outward for its standard and content of “knowledge.”
In my blog, I wrote:
Nor will it do to say that 'man's knowledge of the facts is then a reinterpretation of God's interpretation' (Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, 203f), for the process of discovery and validation is not equivalent to reinterpretation of another mind's wishing.
This is only if you fail to take into account the creative nature of God’s consciousness as informed by Christianity. And so man’s reinterpretation of pre-interpreted facts is not equivalent to “reading minds.”
As to the claim that believers are “thinking God’s thoughts after Him,” how exactly is this fundamentally distinct from the claim to being able to read the mind of a supernatural consciousness? Bahnsen’s own assertion is instructive here (Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings & Analysis, p. 226):
In knowing anything, according to van Til, man thinks what God Himself thinks: there is continuity between God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge, and thus a theoretical basis for the certainty of human knowledge. At the same time, of course, when man knows something, it is man doing the thinking and not God – which introduces a discontinuity between the two acts of knowing, a discontinuity that is greater and more profound than the discontinuity between one person’s act of knowing something and another person’s act of knowing it.
Knowing is an activity relating a mind to the truths known by it.
Knowing is an activity relating a mind to the truths related by it to truths related by it to truths related by it to truths related by it to truths related by it to truths related by it to... ad infinitum.
But is Bahnsen himself entirely consistent with the notion that the believer can “think God’s thoughts after Him”? To be able to do this, it would seem as a minimum condition that the believer would need to be able to access the Christian god’s thoughts in order to “think” them “after Him.” But there are times when Bahnsen disallows this. For example, elsewhere Bahnsen actually appeals to the inscrutability of the Christian god’s thinking as an excuse for not being able to identify the “morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists” which he proposes as his solution to the problem of evil. He writes (Always Ready, p. 173):
We might not be able to understand God’s wise and mysterious ways, even if He told us (cf. Isa. 55:9). Nevertheless, the fact remains that He has not told us why misery and suffering and injustice are part of His plan for history and for our individual lives.
Matthias himself made it clear that Christians “conceive of how reality must be in light of what God is,” which rules out discovering what reality is by looking outward (for we do not discover any supernatural consciousnesses by looking outward). After examining the Vantillian literature on this notion, it appears that the notion of “thinking God’s thoughts after Him” began as an attempt to put in place some ready-made prophylactic by which Christian apologists could assimilate truths discovered by non-Christians as a means of saying “those truths have been compatible with Christianity all along.” Only subsequently has this notion been developed in an attempt to make it seem more palpable under examination by believers, however superficial that might be.
In my blog Confessions of a Vantillian Subjectivist, I wrote the following:
As can be seen, however, there is no basis to the claim that man’s knowledge is in any way like the knowledge Christianity claims for its god. Man discovers and validates his knowledge, and the Christian god whips its “knowledge” out of nowhere, declaring its self-authored content “truth” by fiat.
It follows quite naturally that if God creates self-authored content, it is therefore “truth,” “by fiat,” and necessarily so.
The Objectivist view is that truth is based on facts which are discovered and identified by an objective process. This is diametrically opposed and wholly incompatible with the Christian view that self-authored content can be declared “true” by fiat, that truth is ultimately based on whims. The Objectivist view is entirely consistent with itself. The Christian view either crumbles into absurdities and infinite regresses (given its premises informed by stolen concepts), or secretly makes use of Objectivist principles which are entirely incompatible with Christian affirmations from their very foundations.
In my blog entry, I wrote:
The fundamental distinctions outlined here can only mean that Christians should probably use a completely different term to refer to whatever it is they think their god has in its consciousness, for it surely could not be knowledge as man has it.
With respect, the term existed before Objectivist philosophy ever laid hands on it. But Christians do use a different term than “knowledge” for God. We use “God’s knowledge.”
(a) could not be a product of any active process (it’s supposed to be an infallible and omniscient being which is unchanging and immutable, meaning it has always been omniscient for all eternity);
(b) could only be accessed by looking inward (as opposed to looking outward);
(c) could have no objective basis (since all objects distinct from the Christian god are said to have been created by it through an act of will in the first place); and
(d) could not be conceptual in nature (since concepts are a means of condensing an enormous amount of data by means of measurement-omission expressly for use by a mind which is not omniscient – such as man’s mind)
Thus I can only reaffirm the conclusions which I originally drew in my blog Confessions of a Vantillian Subjectivist. Time and again we find profound fundamental differences between the way man knows, what he knows and the form in which he retains what he knows on the one hand, and what Christianity claims on behalf of its god. The contradiction between the primacy of existence characterizing man’s conscious orientation to the world of facts and the primacy of consciousness assumed in the notion of the Christian god cannot be reconciled. Man does not read minds or think another mind’s thoughts, but rather uses his own mind to think his own thoughts, and therefore needs an objective standard by which to determine what is true and what is not. An objective standard is not available to a worldview which rests on metaphysical subjectivism and affirms that self-authored content can be declared true by fiat. Consequently, there could be no analogous relationship between man’s knowledge, based as it is on facts which exist and are what they are independent of conscious activity, validated by an objective method, and retained in the form of concepts, and the “knowledge” which Christianity attributes to its god, based as it would be on its whims, without any objective basis, and retained without the benefit of concepts. Indeed, we have seen that affirming the Christian view incapacitates the believer’s own ability to develop and maintain an integrated sum of conceptual knowledge without contradiction.
by Dawson Bethrick