I imagine presuppositionalists and hyper-sceptics alike would dispute the claim that touching hot stoves is painful, as an item of certain knowledge possible to learn from instances of touching them. Touching stoves isn't enough to get a full understanding of the way the physiology of the human nervous system interprets intense heat as pain. Whether a full understanding of this will ever be within grasp is unknown. The presupper says God has this full understanding, and this somehow justifies the human claim, or maybe just for theists?
Now of course it’s true that this experience was not sufficient to elucidate the physiology involved in my body’s reaction to the stimulus of the hot stove element. If I could verbalize the discovery I had made in the experience, it would not have been something to the effect of “there are nerves in my fingertips connected to other nerves running from my hand to my brain, and the sensations which those nerves registered sent waves of pain to my brain… [etc.].” And as Jason mc’s statement rightly predicts, even today, far more capable of drawing inductive inferences than I was at the time in question, I still cannot detail all of the physiology involved. But in spite of my deep ignorance of physiology (I was a humanities major), I have no hint of a doubt that touching a hot stove is not a good idea if I want to remain pain-free. Hierarchically, the realization “touching hot stove tops can result in the experience of pain” is not dependent on a detailed understanding of the physiology involved here. Rather, I’d say the opposite is closer to the point: the desire to understand how the stimulus results in such an experience is more likely to be dependent on the grasp that there is a causal connection involved here to begin. Understanding that chain of causality requires systematic investigation.
As to the claim that “God has this full understanding,” it is of course epistemologically vacuous. Even if one were to believe this, it would provide no illumination on how the human mind functions. It is essentially a claim to vicarious knowledge and borrowed understanding, which could only mean: it’s not firsthand knowledge, but something accepted on faith, on the hope that it is true, but without the labor involved in discovering and confirming true discoveries. That’s a pose, not understanding.
As for how apologists think their theistic appeals in such areas address the questions they claim such appeals answer, that has never been clear to me. But I don’t think it’s meant to be clear. Apologists muddy the waters to create a philosophical crisis and then point to their inflatable deity as the supposed solution as if to say, “See! My God is indeed relevant!” What exactly this solves and how it supposedly solves it remains a mystery, which is really where religion needs everything ultimately to reside (as we saw in the Van Til quote I cited in my previous blog entry). They treat their god’s supposed “understanding” as a surrogate for their own, which is no path to understanding for man.
by Dawson Bethrick