Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Types of Certainty Part 4

Moral Certainty = Reasonable

“The third variety of certainty may be termed moral certainty of juridical certainty. This is the certainty of the law courts when they use the expression “beyond reasonable doubt”. -pg.105

An Evaluation of Moral Certainty

Dr. Sproul evaluates the principle of moral certainty through an illustration of a court case.

“Supposing we have a case of person who committed cold-blooded murder in the presence of five hundred witness and whose ruthless act was captured by a broad-cast television camera. To compound the evidence, the culprit was arrested while holding a smoking gun, which fired the fatal bullet and which clearly bears his fingerprints.”- pg. 105

Can the Defense Attorney Demand Absolute Certainty?

“Suppose now that the defense attorney for the accused seeks exoneration on the basis of an appeal to the lack of absolute certainty concerning the guilt of his client. He argues that 1) the five hundred witnesses suffered a mass hallucination; 2) the television account was a carefully contrived…etc” –pg 105

“Thus the defense rests its case on a philosophical appeal to the theoretical possibility that his client is a victim of strange and extraordinary circumstances”-pg 105

Dr. Sproul then states that because“the circumstantial evidence amassed by the prosecution is presented as being less than absolutely certain so that the defense asks for acquittal on the basis of “reasonable doubt”.- pg 105

Rational versus Reasonable

“How do we respond to such a bizarre scenario? The doubt raised by the defense may indeed be rational, but is it reasonable? The courts recognize the difference. Without a distinction between formal certainty and moral or juridical certainty, it would be impossible to convict anyone of a crime unless God himself were both prosecutor and judge” –pg 106


The certainty of God and anything else should be based on reasonable evidence. Dr. Sproul states (in regards to moral certainty of the authority of scripture):

“Thus moral certainty refers to certainty acquired from the weight of evidence that, though lacking philosophical certainty, is weighty enough to impose moral culpability. It is precisely this kind of certainty that the indicia of Scripture yield” – pg. 106

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