You just have to love Ludwig Wittgenstein--not that he was a very lovable character. If Hume was the enfant terrible, the dismantler of the Enlightenment's claim to objective, evidence based, rationalistic "truth", Wittgenstein was his twentieth century step-child. He was the gladiatorial, scathing, sarcastic progenitor of post-modernism.
Wittgenstein pointed out that in all reasoning and arguments there are sets of pre-interpretative grids at play which lead one to certain inferences and conclusions about the facts and data being discussed. All knowledge is circular. All reasoning is circular. To Enlightenment rationalists and their twentieth century descendants, this is hateful stuff.
To Christians it warrants a wry smile. Because we are finite creatures of course we have to reason in a circular fashion. We have always known that. But to Unbelievers it strikes at the essence and heart of the sinful rebel's pride.
Here is a classic Wittgensteinian interchange:
Wittgenstein once asked a friend, "Tell me, why do people always say it was natural for man to assume that the Sun went around the earth rather than that the Earth was rotating?" His friend replied, "Well, obviously, because it just looks as though the Sun is going round the Earth." To which, Wittgenstein responded, "Well, what would it have looked like if it had looked as though the Earth was rotating?"Upon which, Mitch Stokes comments:
Well, exactly the same. Given only our ordinary, unaided observations from the earth, the universe looks identical in a heliocentric and a geocentric universe. Yet these are two very different universes. And even today, no one has observed the earth moving around the sun. Of course, that doesn't mean it doesn't. Nevertheless there are multiple ways to make your theory--to make what you think--agree with what you see. [A Shot of Faith to the Head (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012), p. 76.]What your believe before you interpret the facts normally governs what facts you see and certainly how you interpret them. What you already believe will affect how your hypothesize about the facts. As Van Til once put it, the size and shape of your net determines what fish you catch, and even what you categorise as fish.
Stokes explicates further:
Notice then that for most debates in science, the data--the observations--are the same for both sides. The interpretation of the observations is different. And it's often very difficult to see the plausibility of another interpretation--or even that there is another interpretation--from the vantage of your current interpretation. Wittgenstein was fond of pointing to the famous "duck-rabbit" drawing, in which you might see a rabbit, while someone else sees a duck. It can take quite a bit of effort for you to make the internal shift to see the duck. Yet once you see the duck you wonder why you didn't see it earlier. (Ibid., p.77)So some look at the starry sky and marvel at the glory and power of Almighty God, Maker of the heavens and the earth. Others see indescribable beauty. Others see evidence of a Big Bang. Others see something mundane and ordinary. The empirical data is the same. The interpretations are wildly different. The interpretations are already pre-loaded in the hearts and minds of the observers.