Readers posted a couple questions (see related articles) essentially implying "Yeah but all this is invalid because where did it all come from?" It always seems like a wrong-headed way of approaching knowledge, and a frequent stumbling block for many.
It's such a disconnect from how I reason about things, that I find myself trying to invent an analogy to understand what they're doing.
They seem to view knowledge as royalty.
Royalty isn't like genetics. One cannot do DNA sequencing of Queen Elizabeth and find "royalty genes". Royalty is a status - a social construct. It's based on bloodline, but only for tracking purposes. There's nothing in the blood itself to this effect.
So how do you determine if a person is of "royal bloodline"? Follow the bloodline, step-by-step.
- Is your father royal? (let's assume a patriarchal model) Unknown.
- Well, is his father royal? Unknown.
- Well, is his father's father royal? Unknown.
- Well, is his father's father's father royal? Unknown.
- Yes! Then everyone down the line is royal.
If, however, step #5 was "no", then everyone down the line is proved to be not royalty. For any particular person, you have to find the "first mover" of royalty, where, somehow, the first instance is established.
How does this related to theistic epistemology? They seem - as far as I can tell - to follow a similar model. Imagine a (fairly simplified) conversation:
"How did eyes evolve?"
"Well, through successive generations of naturally selected changes."
"Yes, but where did life come from?"
"Well, through combinations of chemicals found on Earth billions of years ago."
"Yes, but where did those chemicals come from?"
"Through nuclear fusion in stars."
"Yes, but where did the first stars come from?"
"Gravity and hydrogen."
"Yes, but where did hydrogen come from?"
"We haven't figured that out yet." (yes, we did)
"Hah! Then everything down the line is wrong! Everything you think we've independently demonstrated is void!"
It's as though, if they can ever get you to say "we don't know" when pushing back, then somehow everything you think you know is wrong, somehow. Plus, their god-claim automatically wins.
That's my speculation, anyway. It often feels like pulling teeth to get any kind of explanation from them as to how they think knowledge works. The rest I'm left inferring from their statements.