Written by Ben Russell
Any belief that you hold to must boil down to our belief system or simply our ultimate authority. This can be explained with equations or simply letters. Take any of your beliefs (grass is green, the sky is blue, etc) and let that be represented by the letter “A”. How do you know “A” is true? You would state because of “B.” How do you know “B” is true? I know because of “C”.
Eventually your knowledge claim must prove itself out. Lets say “C’ is where your claim ends. If you can’t prove “C” to be true then you don’t know anything at all. Your ultimate authority or belief system “C” must prove itself out and it will be a necessary and an unavoidable circular argument.
When it comes to knowing anything at all we must have all knowledge, or have revelation from somebody who does know everything. Otherwise something could contradict what we think we know. No person has all knowledge, but people do know things to be true because they have revelation from God Himself who does know everything. This is how we solve the issue of an infinite regress. which would make knowledge impossible.
No other belief system can make sense or justify knowledge. Only Christianity can make sense of it. God is the only Being who can and has revealed. All other belief systems borrow the ideas from the Bible to argue against the Bible which just shows they do know God in their heart of hearts (Proverbs 1:7, Romans 1:18-21).
Now I will explain possible responses unbelievers may have about avoiding the problem of an infinite regress. If you haven’t studied the fields of logic or logical fallacies I would recommend studying those first because this gets slightly philosophical and could be difficult to grasp if you aren’t familiar with them. I also point out that this isn’t necessary to know. Just understanding the basics and the importance of circular reasoning with our ultimate authorities is necessary. This article will just address extra or alternative information. I have posted a link to part 1 below which covers the necessities.
Recently, I discussed how all of our beliefs must boil down to an ultimate authority or worldview (Christianity, Atheism, Mormonism, etc). Let any of your beliefs be represented by letters. How do you know “A” to be true? You know “A” because of “B.” How do you know “B”? I know “B” because of “C” and eventually our belief must go back to whatever belief system we hold too and it must prove itself out. So in this case “C” must prove “C.” and it will be circular
Now I’m going to address two major logical fallacies that appear when people try to reject circular reasoning with their ultimate standard. These two specific fallacies are called begging the question and affirming the consequent.
Begging the question is actually a form of circular reasoning. Its when you state a knowledge claim and your evidence for your claim is just a restatement of your claim. Its an assumption restated and even though its valid, it might not be true.
When unbelievers try to avoid the infinite regress and get to their ending point (ultimate authority) they will try to confirm their ending point “C” is true because it follows from “B.” The major problem here “C” is not your ultimate authority then because you proved it with something else, but not only that, you actually proved it with a belief you said follows from another claim you already stated which is begging the question.
Here is a real world example of this fallacy. In the evolution belief system it confirms there is a survival of the fittest which is well known. Basically it confirms that if a living organism survived then it was the strongest of other life. They proclaim a creature survived because it was the fittest and it was the fittest because it survived. This is exactly saying “B” proves “C” and “C” proves “B.” Now if they said it was the fittest or survived due to comparison of other species in other areas the claim could possibly be continued on but this is just an arbitrary assumption.
Affirming the consequent is the second fallacy which I will address which appears in rejection of ultimate authorities. This fallacy can be slightly complicated to understand, along with other similar fallacies because it involves a small degree of algebra or math but its not as important to be aware of so I will avoid the equations. A simple explanation of this fallacy is that it assumes there is only one explanation why a fact is true when their could be more then one explanation for it to be true when that may not be the case.
Using the letters to explain ultimate standards goes like this. I know “B” is true because if “C” is true then its a fact. “C” is definitely true, therefore “B” is true. The problem with this is that “C’ isn’t the ultimate authority here. The justification for “C” is the assumption “B” is the only possible explanation available when there could be another correct answer. In this case “C” does not justify “C.” and that’s the problem.
I’m going to give another example with evolution to explain this fallacy. Evolutionary based worldviews proclaim that if there is similarity in DNA in all organisms then evolution is true. The fact there is similarity in DNA in all organisms proves evolution is true.
Yes, this argument is right about similarity in DNA and is a scientific fact, however its still a bad argument because it assumes there is only one explanation for this fact. The Bible has a great explanation for this fact about DNA. God said he created animals after their kind (Genesis 1:24-25) so this makes sense in Christianity as well. So evolution isn’t necessarily the only justification here.
When it comes to our ultimate authorities proving themselves out only can be provided through the Christian worldview alone. Only Christianity proves the foundation for laws of logic, morality, science, and everything else we take for granted in life. All other ultimate standards are self refuting if you take them a part, but this is a different topic which can be explained simply by knowing your Bible (Proverbs 1:7; 26:4-5).