How do we know? We know by faith. Someone might ask and say, "How do I know I drank a glass of orange juice for breakfast? It isn't by faith. I know because I saw it, tasted it, swallowed and then ingested it. No faith was involved." Someone else could say to that person, "How do you know that you were drinking the glass of orange juice and you are not actually a brain in a vat, living in a simulated world, not really drinking the orange juice? You don't really know." Certain conditions must be met for the constitution of knowledge. Human knowledge is dependent on other knowledge and the buck stops at God, which is why faith still buttresses all knowledge. Human faculties are unreliable without certain presuppositions that originate from God. For instance, how can an accident (chance) "know" anything? It can't, which brings us back to God again. I could say that God is the only alternative, except that chance is the alternative. You can't even consider chance without God. Chance doesn't have a chance.
A few hours before I started writing this post, I read Ezra Klein interview Ta-Nehisi Coates at Vox, which was entitled, "Ta-Nehisi Coates: 'I'm a big believer in chaos." In his introduction, Klein writes:
I spoke with Coates for my podcast this week. The first half of our conversation is political: It’s about Coates’s interviews with Obama, his perspective on American politics, the way his atheism informs his worldview. . . .I draw your attention to "the way his atheism informs his worldview." Coates in the same section that he said "I'm a big believer in chaos," also said:
I think religion undergirds a lot of this. This sort of idea that, “At the end of the day, it all works out.” Or maybe, to put it less condescendingly, that, “We’re on the right side of history, and the arc of the moral universe bends to justice.” That’s just something I don’t share. The sense of destiny that “it will,” I just don’t share it. There’s ample evidence it might not. That’s where I come down.By the way, how can anyone understand chaos without understanding order? Coates was commenting on a long personal interview he did with President Obama. He doesn't have even a close to consistent epistemology. He can't have one with his view of the world. Like all professing atheists, he borrows a Christian worldview to make his argument. Coates says:
From an atheist perspective, life is precious — whenever someone dies, it’s the end of their personal universe. The idea we should hand-wave away the deaths that I believe will come as a result of this election — I just can’t do it.Life expectancy went down in 2015, the first drop since 1993, a year Bill Clinton was president. Let's not hand-wave that away. But I digress.
Earlier Coates also said, "I find it hard to say that Obama’s optimism was “wrong” in a global or moral way." He judges morality and by a certain standard from, he says, an "atheist perspective." What I wanted you to observe, however, is how that his epistemology affects him. President Obama obviously operates on certain assumptions Coates does not.
In part three, I ended by saying that James White denies the knowledge of the exact words and word order of scripture. What we do "know," like among many other evangelicals, White says is by sight. The words are judged by human reasoning. When White argues with a Muslim scholar based upon the veracity of scripture, he depends on textual criticism, which is man's observation. He rejects the authority of scripture for sight.
I guess you can really appreciate James White's arguments against the perfect preservation of scripture if you agree with him. First, you can't bring that to a debate with a Muslim scholar. Second, he's never heard of you. Third, he leafs through one of his books, drawing attention to his authorship. Fourth, all of the above said with an unconventional articulation of the sibilant consonants, rolling of his eyes, and then a maniacal mocking grin. You'll never hear one scriptural argument from James White.
Scripture teaches its own, perfect preservation for every generation of believers. In history before modernism, believers took their position from scripture. They knew by faith.
Not believing what God said about His preservation of His Words and, therefore, not knowing both whether we have God's Words or what they are, brings and has brought many harmful consequences. It begets further faithlessness and denial. If you don't know what God's Words are, how could you believe them and obey them?
Part five will bring further application.