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The unbeliever's theory of knowledge

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

The following was published in The Banner in an article titled "A Christian Theistic Theory Of Knowledge" by Van Til under the sub-heading "The unbeliever's theory of knowledge".

John sees a cow. He calls it an animal. But what is an animal? Webster fails him. He turns to the philosophers Plato tells him that this cow is all imitation of cowness in the eternal world of ideas. But is there such a world of ideas? What did Plato know about it? What can any human being know about anything that is eternal? But Plato was an ancient Greek. Perhaps a modern American knows more about it. So John asks William James. James tells him in effect that nobody knows anything about anything. James tells him to forget about all this mad chase for a knowledge of reality. “Milk your cow and have done with it” says James. “Be practical.”

John tried to be “practical.” So did the prodigal at the swinetrough. But how could John be sure that it was unpractical to speculate about a judgment day? Even Methusaleh died. Likely John would too. And then what? Who can tell him? He cannot help but ask such questions again and again. Yet he may not accept the answer of Scripture for Scripture is on this basis no more than a collection of human opinions. It were an insult to his intelligence to accept anything on authority. He wants to be his own authority. He grows desperate. He grows insane. He commits suicide. Or other wise he gives up thinking and denies his manhood.

Read the full article on Logos:

Cornelius Van Til, and Eric H. Sigward. 1997. The Articles of Cornelius Van Til. Electronic ed. Labels Army Company: New York.


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