<quote from Real Faith & Reason>
Now that we understand the three horns of the trilemma, what’s the scope? For scope, this trilemma applies to any claim, but we must be aware that ungodly thinkers have developed mindless pat answers to this problem. Mostly, they say the trilemma only applies to absolute knowledge. To state it another way, they claim that, without knowing Jesus Christ, humans can know truth but not absolutely. But that’s also a bare claim. It’s an axiomatic thinking fallacy. It fails because of one of the horns of the trilemma.
They can’t escape the trilemma that way. So they say that we’re just supposed to believe them when they say, “Humans can know truth, just not absolutely.” And we’re not supposed to question this claim. However, it’s a lie to claim that the trilemma only applies to absolute knowledge. It applies to all knowledge since all knowledge is either absolute or just opinion masquerading as knowledge. (We’re defining “knowledge” as “knowledge of truth” rather than “knowledge of lies.” We find that no one can name an ungodly conclusion about anything that couldn’t have a different explanation, yet ungodly thinkers argue absolutely for their made-up stuff. Therefore, we can’t have knowledge of any kind if we don’t base our thinking on divine revelation. The trilemma destroys rational thought for ungodly thinkers.
Nevertheless, we can know things, but we know them because God reveals them. We don’t know them because we make up stuff and call the made-up stuff true. Just because ungodly thinkers refuse to thank God and give Him glory for what He reveals to them, the fact that they reject God doesn’t mean that no one can know anything.
Even though they deny Him, God mercifully reveals reality to them and gives them everything else they need for survival because if God didn’t show mercy to them, they wouldn’t survive. And Apostle Paul explained this truth to the Greeks on Mars Hill. Ungodly thinkers receive divine revelation, but they refuse to acknowledge God, so they can’t tell the difference between what they base on made-up stuff and what they base on God’s revelation. As a result, they lose the distinction between good versus evil, truth versus error, or reality versus make-believe. For this reason, they defend lies with the same enthusiasm they defend truth because they can’t tell the difference between truth and lies.
Also, God has given each of us a brute-beast mind. With this mind, we can react to our senses as we’ve already discovered. The trilemma notes that we can’t know that a real world exists unless Christ reveals this fact to us. We can’t know that our senses aren’t fooling us. We can’t know that we aren’t in a dream. We can’t know that logic and reason are of any value at all. While we can stay alive for a while by responding to our senses, we can’t know truth by responding to our senses alone. Responding to our senses isn’t always reliable, but it’s pragmatic.
Ungodly thinkers try to reason beyond their senses without divine revelation, but they become irrational every time they do that. When they try to reason about history, God, morality, ontology, epistemology, or anything else that they can’t sense, they’re irrational. They can define concepts and opinions, but concepts and opinions aren’t part of reality.
So obviously, none of the three choices of the trilemma can create knowledge of truth. All three choices result in not knowing. With these three choices, ungodly thinkers can’t know that anything is true, nor can they know that anything is false. Even when they’re feeling self-confident, they can’t even “sort of” know anything using any of these three fallacies. They can only think pragmatically. They can’t go beyond their immediate sensations. Well, they can go beyond their immediate sensations, but not rationally. The more they extrapolate, the more errors they make.
The trilemma affects the starting point for thinking. It claims that no one has a rational starting point. It asserts a universal negative, and we would need infinite knowledge to assert a universal negative. That means the trilemma is self-refuting since it’s claiming to have infinite knowledge to claim to have zero knowledge. Still, we can see that the trilemma limits knowledge to divine revelation and divine revelation alone. We see this truth by divine revelation, and we’ll further explore why the trilemma limits ungodly thinking as we proceed.
Ungodly thinkers observe the problem of the trilemma. They see it in their own lives and in the lives of everyone they observe. Then they assert a universal negative beyond their sensory experience. That’s irrational.
When we merely think that something is true, we can’t say, “We know,” and still be rational. Of course, we can have our opinions, but they’re just opinions, and opinions are vapor. By experience, we find that ungodly thinkers almost always deal with this problem in one of two ways. Some will go to skepticism and say no one can know anything, but this skepticism refutes itself as we’ve already discovered. Others will just make bare claims without proof to assert that the trilemma isn’t a problem for them, but that’s irrational. In every case, they use the fallacies of the trilemma to assert their opinions. That means they’re proving their problem with the trilemma while denying their problem with the trilemma.
There we have the ungodly thinking fallacy. Without divine revelation, we have three possible foundations for thought. In naturalistic thinking, we’re limited to axiomatic thinking fallacies, circular reasoning, or infinite regression. Without Christ, we can make up stuff (axioms), use circular reasoning, or lose our minds in an infinite regression of unproved proofs. Without Christ, we have no rational choices for concluding anything.
This trilemma leaves no rational starting point for thought, and no one can be rational without an absolute starting point for thought. As the top ungodly thinkers freely admit, having no absolute starting point for thought would destroy science, logic, reason, and evidence as we’ve already seen. Here’s the most insane part: ungodly thinkers claim to use science, logic, reason, and evidence, but their ungodly worldview excludes all of these.
So we have the three horns of the trilemma: (1) infinite regression, (2) circular reasoning, and (3) axiomatic thinking. Simply put, infinite regression and circular reasoning are smokescreens for axiomatic thinking fallacies. That means the first two horns are ways to fog up the third horn. The first two horns make it seem sane when we make up stuff and call the made-up stuff “true.” In the next leg of this trip, we examine each of these three horns in more depth as promised.
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