I asked Mr. Bethrick what “previously validated knowledge” is, since he claims one can know a great deal based upon this, to which he responded, “Previously validated knowledge is knowledge that has already been validated, specifically in the context of new discoveries.”
Of course, circular definitions are definitions which are circular. I do not see that Bethrick ever actually defines what he means by previous validation in a non-circular way nor does he offer an example. He apparently attempts to offer an example of “previous validation” but the illustration only shows an alleged use of previous validation in science rather than showing what this process is or how it works. Additionally, the so called instance of previous validation offered turns out to be an illustration of something other than what he has already presented regarding previously validated facts. Bethrick has mentioned before that previously validated facts cannot be unseated by newly experienced facts while the current illustration is of an individual being able to move from previously validated facts to new facts that are presumably based upon or at least involve previously validated facts. Bethrick has not given us a non-circular definition or example of “previously validated knowledge” and has not illustrated that newly experienced facts do not unseat previously validated knowledge.
Bethrick’s illustration of an individual being able to move from previously validated facts to new facts based upon or involving previously validated facts is as follows:
“…when a scientist studies the flow tendencies of rain water in a particular valley, he does not have to begin every day of his research by discovering the elemental make-up of water. Once this has been discovered and validated, he can move on to exploring new discoveries. That water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen, is knowledge that has, in the context of the scientist’s research, been previously validated.”
My problem with this illustration is that the referent of “this” in the second sentence of the illustration is to the elemental make-up of water. Bethrick writes that the elemental make-up of water has been discovered and validated, but this is incorrect. The elemental make-up of water on a particular day in a particular valley has been discovered by a particular scientist if it was discovered by the scientist at all and if Bethrick’s validation is the kind of process which can bring one to this kind of knowledge to begin with. The scientist in the illustration does not know what the elemental make-up of all water is or what the elemental make-up of other water is or what the elemental make-up of elsewhere water is or if the elemental-makeup of water which was previously validated has not changed since yesterday.
He writes, “Perhaps Bolt thinks I need to go out and test every raindrop that has ever fallen on earth in order to be 'certain' that rain is composed of water droplets. With such requirements for any generalized certainty, it seems to be an unattainable commodity”.
Well yes, it is unattainable for him, and not just certainty, but for probability as well. He posits that this is the same for those receiving knowledge from a supernatural source, which of course it is not if that source knows and controls everything.
How does Bethrick try to deal with his problem here? He writes, “But if we understand the causal process which produces rain (cf. condensation of water vapor in the atmosphere), why would such tests be needed?” Of course, Mr. Bethrick does not know the causal process which produces rain, for not only can he not observe causation, he does not know that the same causal process produces all rain. He then asks if people who depend on and collect rain water for their survival need to perform such tests. The answer is contingent upon what he means by “need”.
Bethrick writes, “I openly admit that I am neither omniscient nor infallible. But neither is he. So we’re in the same boat.”
Of course this is not true, as I believe in an all-knowing God who has revealed Himself to us and cannot lie. Bethrick apparently thinks it would be clever and profitable to ask questions like, “What if your God could lie though? What if your God does not know everything? What if your God has fur?” but as has already been explained to him multiple times now, I believe in the Christian God who neither lies nor lacks knowledge nor has fur. It has become evident that Bethrick cannot answer the arguments presented based on this conception of God and so he must resort to setting up a straw man and attacking the presuppositional argument by substituting another god that none of us believe in to begin with. At this point it has become clear that Bethrick is just dishonest when it comes to this part of the argument.
Bethrick does not accept that newly experienced facts may unseat previously validated knowledge. I do not see that it would be difficult to illustrate that newly experienced facts may unseat previously validated knowledge however, which would of course have the interesting result that the prior fact was not knowledge after all. Let us suppose that the scientist tested and determined that the water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen then woke up to find that while he had dreamed this, the world, which included water, was really very different and water was made up of different elements, elements which were not even on the Periodic Table of the Elements in his dream world. Perhaps there is no such Table in the real world that he did not experience prior to waking up. We thought we had validated the fact that Pluto is a planet. Now if we can be wrong with respect to all sorts of similar things and indeed often are, why can we not be wrong with respect to essentially everything in similar fashion?
If the world is as Bethrick posits that it is then there is always a possibility that some hitherto unknown fact may radically change our apparent knowledge of the world as it is now. This fact may be related to something as seemingly insignificant as where the end of a sentence is in a Greek manuscript or it could be an extremely significant fact with huge consequences for what we know. How do we know that new information will fit with old rather than overturn it? The truth is that we do not know this at all if the world is as Bethick submits that it is.
Bethrick invites me to produce some fact or facts which will overturn a piece of his knowledge, however the argument does not rest upon exemplary facts, which would miss the whole point, but upon the possibility that there are such facts. We know that there are such facts with respect to some parts of knowledge, why not with respect to other parts of knowledge? The argument does not require that I produce any facts to overturn what we know about rain. If Bethrick does not know that there are no such facts, then he cannot claim to know what he does concerning rain. Bethrick does not know all facts, hence he cannot claim to know what he does concerning rain.
Bethrick makes the following amusing statement in a last ditch effort to wish away the reality of skepticism he is forced to accept for sake of consistency with his own program. He states,
“I do not ascribe [I think he meant to write “subscribe”] to the epistemological model which equates “possibility” with whatever the human mind can imagine. I can imagine breathing water, but I do not accept it as a possibility that I will ever be able to breathe water. To affirm a possibility, one needs at least some evidence to support it, and no evidence against it.”
Apparently suggesting that other peoples’ gods have fur and redefining terms at will is not enough for would-be autonomous Bethrick, as he now gets to decide what is possible! I do not find this to be very “objective” at all. Since Dawson Bethrick does not accept that it is possible to ever be able to breathe water, it is therefore impossible that he will ever be able to breathe water. Never mind that we can imagine a world in which Bethrick can breathe water, never mind that there is nothing at all logically inconsistent with Bethrick breathing water, and never mind that upon consistent Bethrick presuppositions we cannot determine that breathing water will be physically problematic at some time in the future; no, Dawson Bethrick is the sole determiner of what is possible and impossible! Bethrick said it, I believe it, and that settles it! I for one am glad that Bethrick did not live in the past and believe that Earth is flat, as it would have forever been impossible that it should be otherwise. Imagine back-in-the-day-Bethrick experiencing the flatness of Earth and never hearing of planetary motion. No evidence to support Earth being other than flat, and no evidence against earth being flat either, so forget the possibility that Earth is as we know it to be now. Forget cars and the Internet as well. I am sure if we pressed this further we could come up with all sorts of interesting results, but it suffices to say that Bethrick, in his sinful autonomy, wants to be like God, determining what is possible. He does this even at the expense of leaving every definition offered by Webster’s for “possibility” and “possible” behind, the same dictionary he uses to try and justify his calling God a magical being. Why start being consistent now though?
By the way, the Bible never uses such a term as “magic” to describe God and neither should Bethrick, first because Bethrick inconsistently appeals to Webster’s on the definition of this term but not “possibility”, second because he apparently misunderstands the definition he cites anyway, as said definition mentions extraordinary power or influence which is “seemingly” from a supernatural source, (What supernatural *source* is God *seemingly* from according to the Bible?) third because “magic” is a noun, not an adjective, fourth because the adjective related to the noun is so closely related to the noun that it falls prey to the same problems of labeling the God of the Bible as “magic”, and fifth because the term is clearly intended to conjure(since we are talking about magic) up in the mind of the reader a picture of evidentiary status like unto fantasy creatures which is to beg the question. God does not cast magical spells, but he does command men everywhere to repent.
I asked Mr. Bethrick how he knows that water might not turn into merlot the next time he drinks it.
He states that his answer is simple. His answer is that he knows this by a means of knowledge. This is almost as enlightening as "previously validated" meaning "validated previously". He goes on to specify that he knows this through his reason. Okay, so far so good, but how does Bethrick know through the use of reason? He goes on to say that he uses a method called logic. I would ask Mr. Bethrick which law of logic he utilizes to know that water might not turn into merlot the next time he drinks it, but it appears that he has once again redefined a term. Bethrick describes logic as “an objective method of integrating new knowledge with previously validated knowledge”. How do you know your water won’t turn into merlot? “Well the answer is simple, I know through an objective method of integrating new knowledge with previously validated knowledge.” Most of us have encountered something like this answer in a field at least once. It really is a simple question. Where is the simple answer promised? I do not see how drinking a glass of water has a great deal to do with new knowledge as far as what we are concerned with here, and in any event Bethrick has not explained how he integrates his knowledge with what he has already validated, whatever "validated" means. It is not that Bethrick cannot be certain about the water remaining water, it is that he cannot know at all that it will. He moves on to attempting to set up another straw man concept of a god that Christians do not believe in only this time he wants us to believe in a god who is malevolent and has a tattoo of Silent Bob on its stomach.