It's probably rare to use a Xanga site to comment on a textbook, but I figured it'd be a good way to process what I've been reading.

Karl Popper's theory of what humans can know effectively (but maybe indirectly) leaves no possibility of discussing the truth or falsehood of the claim that God exists/acts/etc. What he says about knowledge is that although we can never prove anything true, we can certainly prove theories false, using counterexamples and the like. On this view, "good" explanatory theories are filled with "testable" statements (that is, they can be experimentally refuted), while "bad" explanatory theories are filled with untestables.

It is usually taken for granted that God isn't testable. Makes a certain amount of sense; after all, humans aren't particularly testable either, and deity definitely ought to be more profound than humans. But I think it's weird that we use the testability of something as a criterion for its truth...I don't think that's what Popper is doing, but it seems to be the implicit result of his methods. "You can't test for God," someone says, "so therefore we have no real reason to discuss His existence."

But what if His existence is important? I tend to think that it is; I don't particularly want to be wrong about the question of the existence and nature of a supreme being. Call me crazy. What's more, even concerning humans, there are "untestables" that are important. Take this example:

A man commits ten "perfect murders" in a row ("perfect" here meaning that he leaves absolutely NO trace of evidence that could possibly implement other words, there is no way anyone could possibly figure out that he was the culprit unless he were to confess). What's more, he intends to commit more. The police, having observed the first ten murders, naturally infer that more are on the way if they don't catch the culprit; yet there is absolutely no evidence. That's because only one person knows the truth for sure: the killer himself.

So what if the cops stumble across him at random and ask him if he did it? What do you suppose he will say? My guess is that he'll lie about it, and the cops, having no other evidence to go on, will have to believe him. And so he gets away with it, because that knowledge belongs to him alone.

That's a case of very practical knowledge being hidden from "testable" experimentation; there's no way to know that particular knowledge unless it is revealed by its knower.

This is why I find Popper's viewpoint unsatisfactory, although I don't pretend to have a firm argument against it. It just seems to me like we ought to be able to discuss seemingly "untestable" things as though they could be known, because otherwise there are a great many things we will never discover.

What I've left undiscussed in this posting is the question of whether God's existence is truly untestable. I'm not completely sold on that point, and the reason is that no Christian who truly understands God's revelation would ever claim that God has revealed nothing of Himself to humankind. Unlike the murderer in the above example, God isn't hiding; at least, not according to us Christians. Maybe another question that deserves consideration is whether God's revelation is falsifiable...if it were, it wouldn't be from God.

There is, of course, still a hermeneutical leap there...after all, who's to say that an inerrant document MUST be from a supreme being? But it seems ridiculous to me to claim otherwise, so I consider this question moot for now. Humans do not produce inerrancy.

That's all for now. Have a great day!