Two Caveats: Diller's Concluding Unphilosophical Postscript on Barth & Plantinga
Kevin Diller, Theology's Epistemological Dilemma: How Karl Barth and Alvin Plantinga Provide a Unified Response, (IVP Academic, 2014).
|"Mr. Pipo Think 03" by Nevit Dilman|
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The [Barth-Plantinga] proposal leaves us with no way of ruling out the possibility of self-deception. But being unable to rule out this possibility is just a feature of being human and follows from our acknowledgement that we are humanly unable to self-secure the grounds of knowledge (p. 297).
If we could post of some sort of magic pill that would make the problem of doubt go away for good, we would be something less than human; what's more, as Diller writes, we would no longer be in the situation of relying utterly on divine grace to illumine our paths to knowledge.
Diller's second caveat is the "practicality concern." In some ways, I find this issue more interesting than the first. Diller writes:
This concern has to do with the apparent uselessness of this proposal for determining whose view is the right view on a number of debated questions in contemporary theology. In fact, this proposal fails even to offer an argument to settle the most basic questions in theological epistemology (e.g., is there a God to know?) (pp. 297-298).
The foundations of the truth of revelation -- as both Barth and Plantinga maintain (each in his own idiom) -- simply are not at our disposal, for we are creatures and not the Creator.
Of course, the forgoing points don't entail we wallow in agnostic despair. To see how, according to Diller, Christian theology and philosophy of religion might offer tools for answering skepticism, you will have to read the book for yourself. Still, whatever other uses the Christian thinker might make of Diller's erudite study, for my part, I'd like to take his two caveats and print a bookplate to put in the front cover of all my books of theology, philosophy and social theory.