Clark Quick Quote

Keeping with the epistemology theme of recent posts, the following is from Clark’s reply to George Mavrodes that can also be found in Clark and His Critics:

The point at issue is not whether somebody believes that David was King; the question is, How can we know that David was King? No secular historiography (as I hope to show in a future volume) can validly give us that proposition. Nor can secular or empirical epistemologies give us the Atonement. In answer to the question how we may know these things we can reply only that God has so revealed them. One sentence in the objection (unintentionally no doubt) reinforces my position. Mavrodes notes, “It is a common tactic of Christianity’s opponents to direct some of their first and most effective attacks against the Axiom.” In this tactic, so it seems to me, there is a satanic wisdom that passes by derivative propositions and fixes on the very basis of Christianity. These opponents know or perhaps dimly but rightly surmise that if they can destroy the foundation, nothing remains.

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5 Comments on “Clark Quick Quote”

  1. Hugh Says:

    Hear, hear!

    All their good intentions notwithstanding, Messrs McDowell, Strobel, et. al. are doofusses.

    In answer to the question how we may know these things [anything!] we can reply only that God has so revealed them. Amen.

  2. Denson Dube Says:

    Hugh,
    “All their good intentions notwithstanding, Messrs McDowell, Strobel, et. al. are doofusses.”

    I agree, the surprising thing being why these doofies do not find learning to their taste. Anyone no matter how learned or conceited would find something edifying in Gordon Clark’s writings.

    Paraphrasing the Apostle Paul: Titus 1:9 – 11,
    ” holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of [empricism], whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. ”

    I need to start reading Clark all over again!

  3. medees1 Says:

    Sean,
    Do you know anywhere specifically where Clark says that justification is necessary for knowledge, meaning, that one must personally be able to validly demonstrate their true belief in order for their true belief to be rightly called knowledge? Of course there must be a legitimate account for knowledge, but need the individual knower provide the justification in order to know? Thanks.

    Maybe I’m off, but I think that this quote has an implicit endorsement of what I lean toward. Namely, Clark says, “In answer to the question how we may know these things we can reply only that God has so revealed them.” Right! So in other words, Clark’s assent and Mavrode’s assent to the proposition that “David was king” are both called knowledge (for they both know it according to Clark), but Mavrode’s epistemology (which is non-revelational at root) can’t account for that proposition. Am I off here?

  4. Sean Gerety Says:

    Do you know anywhere specifically where Clark says that justification is necessary for knowledge, meaning, that one must personally be able to validly demonstrate their true belief in order for their true belief to be rightly called knowledge?

    While perhaps not a specific quote, I would say his entire Intro to Christian Phil answers the question “how do we know?” Also, many people confuse demonstration with giving an account. I know that is not really your question, but I came across an old exchange between Dr. Robbins and Hare Krisha Michael Sudduth that might answer your question, if not it was still interesting for me to read this exchange again (emphasis mine):

    In a message dated 8/22/1999 1:44:29 AM Eastern Daylight Time, msuddth writes:

    It’s interesting that in *A Christian View of Men and Things* Clark *denies* that knowledge requires a demonstration of the truth of a proposition. There he defines knowledge as “the possession of a truth” and contrasts it with demonstration.

    Lest someone accuse me of misrepresenting or not understanding Clark, I quote:

    “Knowledge means the possession of a truth. It is not necessary to work out a philosophical system and to demonstrate truths before having them. On the contrary, even in geometry, one has usually come into the possession of a truth before one attempts to demonstrate it: in fact this will be seen always to be true if we do not restrict our vision to a narrow field. Demonstration and the arrangement of truths into a logical system is undeniably a desideratum; it is precisely the progress in such systematization that distinguishes the philosophical student from the intellectual dull; but philosophers are not the only people who can know truths. Disjointed truths possessed are still truths possessed and therefore knowledge.” (*A Christian View of Men and Things*, Baker Edition, p. 324).

    Well, here we have Clark saying more than once that knowledge *is* the possession of a truth, and he explicitly distinguishes this from demonstration. But Robbins tells us that knowledge is true belief with an account or demonstration, not simply a true belief. I conclude that either Clark changed his mind about knowledge later or Robbins has misrepresented or misunderstood Clark. Unfortunately when I brought this up before (in my Critique of Scripturalism and on the list), he declined to answer. And Buddy wants Robbins to smooth out the rough edges. Right. Are you a betting man?

    Peace,
    Michael
    _________________________________

    Once again Sudduth-Czapkay uses his favorite Jesuitical tactic: abusive ad hominem.

    But to return to Clark: I have explained before, but Sudduth-Czapkay, like Marc Carpenter, simply plows ahead, ignoring the counter-arguments–I have explained several times that “demonstration” is not synonymous with “giving an account.”

    Clark never asserted that all truth must be demonstrated; some truth is axiomatic. (It is precisely axiomatic truth that Wilder and Sudduth-Czapkay seem to hate so much).

    Clark asserts that possession of a truth, even if undemonstrated or unsystematized, is still possession of a truth. The person who possesses truths in such fashion is an “intellectual dullard.” That is the position for which Sudduth-Czapkap is arguing: the position of the intellectual dullard. In fact, he seems to be saying that that is the best he can do. He apparently rejects Clark’s desideratum of a logical system, for arranging truths in a philosophical system, based on an axiom, is either unnecessary or impossible.

    The question arises: How does the intellectual dullard distinguish truth from falsehood? How does he know the proposition he believes is a truth and not a falsehood? That is, how does the intellectual dullard give an account? Unless he has an epistemological criterion, a standard–and for Christians there is only one criterion: Scripture–he cannot tell truth from falsehood.

    The unbeliever may possess and in fact must possess some (however slight) truth, but he did not get it through philosophical research or on his own steam. Nor can he give a coherent account of how he came to possess a truth, let alone arrange it in a logical system. The wisdom of the world is foolishness. The carnal mind hates the law of God, and cannot be subject to it.

    The unphilosophical Christian knows many truths, and he can give an account of them (as he is commanded to do): He learned them from the Bible, the inerrant Word of God. Or is that too much of an account for you, and therefore too “Platonic,” Mike?

    The Christian philosopher is commanded to do what only Clark has done: Arrange those truths in a logical system, based on an axiom.

    Gentlemen, your war on axioms, Clark, and epistemology in general is futile. You represent but the latest cycle in the foolishness of non-Christian philosophy–a cycle Clark describes in Thales to Dewey.

    John Robbins

  5. Steve M Says:

    “it was still interesting for me to read this exchange again”

    It was very interesting for me to read this for the first time.


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