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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Confusion Over The Transcendental Argument For The Existence Of God


Generally speaking TAG is a deductive argument, but it is unlike all other deductive arguments. What sets TAG apart from garden variety deduction is that with the latter we begin with some truths (or inferences) and reason to others – but unlike transcendental arguments that to which we reason is not presupposed as a necessary precondition for the intelligible experience of the original fact of experience (or its denial). For instance, “If causality then God” merely means that causality is a sufficient condition for God and that God is a necessary condition for causality. Which is to say: if causality exists then it is logically necessary that God exists. However, such a premise does not delve into the question of how God and causality relate to each other. It does not tell us whether God exists because of causality or whether causality exists because of God. Causality presupposes God says more than causality is a sufficient condition for God and that God is a necessary condition for causality. If causality presupposes God then God must be logically prior to causality.

The transcendental argument for the existence of God is an argument that has as its conclusion God exists.

Prove A: The Christian God exists.
Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): The Christian God does not exist.
Step 2 (~A--> B): If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility
Step 3 (~B): There is intelligible experience (Contradiction)
Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation.)
Q.E.D.

Whereas professing atheists are willing to concede the validity of the above argument Christians should happily concede that the argument is not only not fallacious (i.e. valid) but also sound. In other words, although professing atheists and Christians alike agree that the above argument has a valid form – i.e. the conclusion follows from the premises – Christians should agree that since the premises are all true and the form is valid the conclusion is true. But unfortunately Christians don't always grasp this point.

Christians often say that TAG does not achieve its goal because not every worldview is refuted in the argument. Such a claim simply demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the scope of TAG. The above argument is aimed to prove that God exists, which it does. To deny that it does is to reject logic and / or biblical truths. Again, the argument above has a specific conclusion, God exists. The conclusion of the argument is not that if God does not exist, then there could be no intelligible experience. In other words, the above transcendental argument does not aim to prove that God is the precondition for intelligible experience, though that is a premise used in the argument which is why the argument is transcendental. That is where Christians who oppose TAG get tripped up. They don’t appreciate what is being argued.

So what about step 2 of the argument? We can defend the premise of step 2 deductively by appealing to the absolute authority of Scripture. Of course the unbeliever rejects that authority; nonetheless that the unbeliever is dysfunctional does not mean that an appeal to Scripture is fallacious! After all, if a skeptic rejects logic should we then argue apart from logic? Since when does the dullness of an opponent dictate which tools of argumentation may be used? Of course, given the unbeliever’s suppression of the truth the Christian does well to defend step 2 inductively by performing internal critiques of opposing worldviews, which of course can only corroborate the veracity of step 2. It would be fallacious, however, to conclude because of such condescension toward the unbeliever that the conclusion of TAG (God exists) and the justification for its step 2 (God is the precondition of intelligibility) rest upon inductive inference. By the use of induction the Christian is merely acknowledging that the unbeliever refuses to bend the knee to the self-attesting Word from which step 2 can be deduced by sound argumentation. Since unbelievers will not accept the truth claims of the Bible and, therefore, a deductive defense of step 2 the only thing the Christian can do is refute the hypothetical competitors, but that hardly implies that step 2 cannot be proved by deduction.

Finally, it has been noted by some and popularized by Don Collet in the Westminster Theological Journal that the only way a transcendental argument may be formalized is thusly (TAG*):

C presupposes G if and only if both 1 & 2:
1. If C then God exists
2. If ~C then God exists

Given such a construct, we are no longer negating the metaphysicality of causality but rather the truth value of the predication of the metaphysicality of causality. In other words: ~causality (which is chaos) does not presuppose God so for the construct to make sense it must pertain only to prediction about causality. In other words, since non-causality is an impossible entity that defies creation, providence and intelligibility, such a formulation of TAG (TAG*) limits itself to predication only. Does the apologist really want to do that? Do we want to give up arguing that God is the precondition for the intelligible experience of actual causality? I think not. TAG* (as opposed to TAG) is indeed powerful but it does not pertain to anything other than predication; whereas TAG may pertain to predication and the reality that the predication contemplates.

Ron
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229 comments:

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Joshua Butcher said...

Lucid brevity, brother, well put!

Anonymous said...

Ron, Bahnsen's argumentation for the existence of God and his presuppositional apologetics don't seem to do anything more than prove a theistic worldview.

Based on what Romans 1 teaches us, God has already made his existence known and is plain to all - they are without excuse.

Neither presuppositional apologetics or evidential (TAG) apologetics seems to accomplish any form of truly distinctive Christian apologetics.

For this reason, I'm not a huge fan of either and tend to rely more heavily on philosophical and historical apologetics.

What am I missing? Thanks!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Romans 1 teaches all men know God. The justification for that knowledge in particular and all knowledge in general must come from Scripture, God's special revelation.

Evidenitialism is not TAG. Presuppositionalism is. You're confusing terms I'm afraid.

It's hard to say what your missing. Maybe you might try again with your thoughts? I'm now missing something. :)

Blessings,

Ron

Anonymous said...

Romans 1 states:
"19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
That passage describes general revelation.

You are correct I incorrectly said evidential apologetics was TAG.

However, I think my point stands, which is that neither Bahnsen's presuppositionalism (at least as much as I've read) nor evidentialism proves anything more than general revelation has already shown to us.

I don't see anything particularly Christian about presuppositionalism, thus far.
Jay.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hi Jay,

God's word calls us to answer a fool according to his folly and the fool says in his heart there is no God. Accordingly, unto God's glory we may prove God's existence to the fool even though the fool knows God exists. It's all about God's glory, not man's enlightenment. The only question at this juncture is what is the most God honoring way to do that. "Traditional" apologetics are all formally fallacious and evidentialism only aims to argue that God probably exists. TAG is biblical and God honoring.

Best wishes,

Ron

Anonymous said...

"The only question at this juncture is what is the most God honoring way to do that."

I disagree, as I believe my original question still stands:
Besides theism, what does TAG prove? And if we already presuppose general revelation for mankind, then is TAG actually achieving anything else? I really want to know, because I'm looking for the distinctively Christian apologetic.

In addition, another question that matters to me at this juncture: if apologetics are only based on presuppositions, then how can anyone be sure that they are actually being God-honoring, as opposed to simply presupposing, let's say, that we should still support slavery, and then finding the verses in the Bible that support our presuppositions? Of course, that sort of thing happens all the time, in the different theological camps. So, how would you effectively be able to guard against with Bahnsen's approach?

-Jay

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Jay,

There's only one God so if TAG proves God then it must be the Christian God. Your second paragraph makes no sense to me.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,
It doesn't seem like our discussion is going to go anywhere. But I'll try one more time.

Based on your response, then either:

1. If TAG only proves theism, and I'm Jewish, or Muslim, or even just a "higher power" AA meeting goer, then I remain the same and in my sins.

or
2. If TAG accomplishes all that is needed in apologetics, then all one must do is to believe general revelation to be Christian?

Do you want me to just leave you alone? I will.

Thanks, Jay

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Jay,

TAG stands for transcendental argument for the existence of God. TAG is not the gospel. Moroever, it is not an argument for theism in general as a conceptual necessity but true theism, an ontological necessity. The precondition for intelligible experience is the true God of creation and providence who has revealed himself in special revelation. Special revelation is the justification for what we can know in general revelation through conscience, creation and providence.

TAG is not the gospel. You're apparently looking for everything in one polemic.

Warmly,

Ron

Anonymous said...

Ron,

Go check Ryan's blog out and see what he's saying about sufficiency, atonement and the "unpardonable" sin. I've made some comments.

Thanks!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

A,

I saw the original post earlier today because I was watching Josh on the preceding thread. I scanned the atonement thread and saw what seems to be the same problem you noted. Although it is true that “had God desired to save all men without exception, then all men without exception would be saved” – that logical truth does not imply the theological premise that God could have saved men who had committed the unpardonable sin. Certainly Ryan’s thesis is I suppose logically tenable yet just the same I don’t see it as a good and necessary inference he draws from Scripture, and given the principle of sola scriptura I don’t see any reason to embrace the speculative thesis. Your point is that the thesis wasn’t argued for and that it was simply assumed by definition.

Note too that if God wanted to save all men without exception and consequently had he sent Jesus to die for all men without exception, then salvation could not have been applied without first getting rid of the sin of rejecting Christ. To put it in your terms, that's not a matter of God's volition but a matter of God's nature: he cannot unite to himself those who reject him. In the like manner, assuming for a moment Ryan's thesis, let’s consider that for God to have decreed to save those who committed the “unpardonable sin” (which would mean that the sin was no longer unpardonable) we may safely say that those who had committed said sin would have to repent and believe. Yet we don't know from Scripture whether it is theologically possible for God to regenerate such a one who has committed such a sin. As you pointed out, we don’t know whether the unpardonable sin in this world is unpardonable by volition or necessity. If the former, then why that sin? If not the latter (i.e. if there is no necessity), then I would think we’d want to show that from Scripture. We can't simply ignore the fact that God does not extend grace to those who commit a particular sin. My inclination would be to go in the opposite direction of Ryan. My guess might be that something occurs that prohibits God from possibly saving such a one. Ryan indexes the impossibility in this world of saving such a one to a matter of God's volition. Both positions probably have merit, but Ryan prefers to assert his position as a matter of Reformed dogma. (Obviously, if God cannot save one who commits such a sin, then for him to save all he'd have to not decree that anyone commit such a sin.)

As I said to Josh in private conversation, all men would do well to pause when they find themselves breaking new theological ground. This is not to say that the church has arrived in its understanding; it hasn’t. For what it’s worth, his remark toward you not grasping his point wouldn’t have been so arrogant had it been true. You don’t agree with him but you certainly seemed to grasp his point.

Best,

Ron

Anonymous said...

Now look and see that he has man changing their own dispositions and he first denies he said it and then he says what is wrong with it?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I'll try to look later but just remember, paper never resits ink.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Cut your losses. Not only has he gone beyond Scripture on the matter of the unpardonable sin, he's showing himself unapproved in the area of metaphysics and volition. Man doesn't change his disposition any more than a leopard changes his spots. Is he a Calvinist?! He doesn’t grasp that a man’s disposition can change without him doing the changing.
http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/03/word-or-two-about-free-will.html

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I should elaborate that it is not shameful that this young man doesn't grasp the intricacies of Reformed thought and apologetics. What's a shame is that he desires to pass off his musings as correct. He would do well to close down his blog, drink in this stuff and ask questions. He is a fair student, but a poor teacher. Again, that is not said to his shame. After all, he's a very young.

Anonymous said...

Any interest in engaging this line of reasoning:
http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/12/philosophy-lives

I found the author's points worthwhile and wondered whether you thought there was any basis.


Jay.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

It might be more helpful so that I might help you if you would explain to me without any references to the article what you are thinking. In other words, feel free to discuss anything you like without asking me to read other sources.

Thanks,

Ron

Brad B said...

Hi Ron, I have been thinking about the defense of step 2. I was referred to an article that was critical of this step saying it is question begging. I want to know 2 things, 1] when someone is questioning step 2, they are assuming intelligibility as is the case of questioning God in the first place. Is this the beginning of an infinite regress, and if it is, what would that mean?
2]To suggest that step 2 is question begging[a premise in the argument for God's existence appealing to scripture] seems to equivocate God and scripture. One can derive content from the scriptures regarding justification of true knowledge without appealing to the Author can they not?

Thanks for you thougths.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

when someone is questioning step 2, they are assuming intelligibility as is the case of questioning God in the first place. Is this the beginning of an infinite regress, and if it is, what would that mean?

Hi Brad,

I wouldn’t say it’s the beginning of an infinite regress. If a Christian questions step-2, he is not questioning the truth of the premise otherwise he wouldn’t be a Christian. Christians sometimes question whether the justification for step-2 is fair game. In other words, they don’t think that we are allowed to appeal to God’s word to justify a premise. Why should we play by such rules? In fact, how is it possible to justify any premise apart from God’s word?! What such unthinking Christians think is that we may only use as premises those assumptions that the unbeliever also agrees with, but that is not only hazardous, it’s sinful for it suggests that there are facts that are justifiable apart from God.

To suggest that step 2 is question begging[a premise in the argument for God's existence appealing to scripture] seems to equivocate God and scripture. One can derive content from the scriptures regarding justification of true knowledge without appealing to the Author can they not?

We must distinguish but can never separate God from revelation. God is the necessary precondition for knowledge and his Word is the necessary precondition for the justification of knowledge. Having said that, it’s impossible to appeal to Scripture without presupposing its author, God.

Blessings,

Ron

Brad B said...

Hi Ron, I guess I have no problem with what you said, even a friend who's a member of an OPC said to me that Van Til never apologized or felt the need to go further. Even WCF chapter 1 par. IV [I'm sure you know]says: "The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God." but isn't it problematic for a formal argument to have the justification of one of it's premises rest on the authority of the subject that the primary premise is attempting to prove?

I hope that it's possible to justify step 2 in such a way that scripture answers the requirement on it's miraculous/supernatural revelation without appealing to the Author. Lets say a critic asks that step 2 be justified, can the scriptures account for intelligibility logically prior to acknowledging the author--which ought to evade the charge of assuming the thing that needing proof. I hope I am not rambling or unclear--just trying to understand this better.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

but isn't it problematic for a formal argument to have the justification of one of it's premises rest on the authority of the subject that the primary premise is attempting to prove?

That’s no problem with ultimate truth claims. In fact, it’s necessary.

I hope that it's possible to justify step 2 in such a way that scripture answers the requirement on its miraculous/supernatural revelation without appealing to the Author.

What is it to appeal to revelation without presupposing the author of the revelation?

Obviously the unbeliever will not accept Scripture, so all we can do is show the internal inconsistency of the opposing worldview, but that doesn't prove ours. It merely corroborates it.

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I said in the comment section: "As you pointed out, we don’t know whether the unpardonable sin in this world is unpardonable by [God's] volition or necessity. If the former, then why that sin? If not the latter (i.e. if there is no necessity), then I would think we’d want to show that from Scripture."

Please note that "not the latter" is indeed the former, volition.

Brad B said...

Ok Ron, thanks. So it[step 2] is defended as one would defend any other self attesting/axiomatic? Ultimate propositions are necessarily circular, I can live with that in most instances especially in dealing with other Christians or with people who're not opposed to seeing what the scriptures have to say. But, when dealing with the obstreperous[Calvins word] it'd be nice to defend it another way. "The foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men"

Let me ask you to consider these questions. 1]In challenging step 2, could it be said that the challenger is supposing that there "is a possibility of the contrary" and it is their obligation to account for intelligibility besides/without appealing to the Christian worldview?

Then, once again, supposing one examines the scriptures without considering the authorship. Peter says that "we have a more sure word of prophecy" over and above eyewitness testimony in regards to the truth revealed. Logically prior to coming to affirm the Author, one can indeed come to affirm that the scriptures attest of One greater. Not finally mind you, but logically prior and even temporally prior knowledge. Even though the unregenerate will never come to embrace that knowledge, he cannot deny that it's possible to appeal to the scriptures as an authority without logically first assuming God as author. I think this defeats the charge of question begging as it has been leveled and if not, like 1 above it seems to be that if the charge of using circularity in a ultimate proposition must be answered, it must be on the accuser since they are denying the ultimate status of the proposition--in other words, prove ~the impossibility of the contrary.

What do you think?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

"Ultimate propositions are necessarily circular, I can live with that in most instances...But, when dealing with the obstreperous[Calvins word] it'd be nice to defend it another way."

If it's "necessary" as you say, then there's no way around it. If the proposition is "ultimate" as you say, then there's nothing higher. Would you abandon logic to defend logic?

"1]In challenging step 2, could it be said that the challenger is supposing that there "is a possibility of the contrary"'

Probably but not necessarily. He might not have an opinion. He might just not appreciate that ultimate truth claims have a terminus point.

"it is their obligation to account for intelligibility besides/without appealing to the Christian worldview?"

It is their obligation to submit to God. If they don't want to, then they should try to justify argumentation in general and anti-God arguments in particular. In any case, I think you're getting far afield with what they ought to be doing.

"Logically prior to coming to affirm the Author, one can indeed come to affirm that the scriptures attest of One greater."

Not so, but in any case this leads nowhere. How can one know that the Scriptures attest to God unless God's word is self-attesting, which presupposes himself as the author?

I think you're making this harder for yourself than need be.

Brad B said...

Hi Ron, again thanks. In this instance, the charge is from Christians, and everything you said still stands "It is their obligation to submit to God. If they don't want to, then they should try to justify argumentation in general and anti-God arguments in particular"

I think I'll address the challenge of the argument more directly then. I've seen it before, charging the Christian with an unbiblical approach, and I actually agree that this is true and can defend it.

John W said...

Hi Ron,

Paul Manata shows here why TAG is deductive. I thought you'd like it.

http://www.choosinghats.com/2011/04/bahnsen-van-til-tag-and-deduction/#comment-4466

Reformed Apologist said...

Yes, Paul did a great job. :)

Thanks,

Ron

MS Quixote said...

This is simply a fabulous blog. My highest compliments.

Love the TAG, but I have a question. As you have the argument stated, Step one posits the non-existence of the Christian God, while the remaining steps fall back to mere theism. Should it track the Christian God through all steps of the argument, should step one just say God does not exist, or is it correct as stated?

If it's the first option, I'm interested in further commentary (if you have a moment) on "if the [Christian] God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since the [Christian] God is the precondition of intelligibility."

I understand the utility of defeating opposing worldviews in defense of the premise, but it seems reasonable that the God of mere theism could provide the precondition of intelligibility.

Learning, not arguing, and I accept the absolute authority of Scripture as stipulated in your OP.

MS

Reformed Apologist said...

Hi MS,

You're correct, I should use the same name, God or Christian God, consistently throughout for clarity sake. Being the same (and only) God, in principle there is no difference, however, formally - given it's a proof, it should be corrected or else I should insert a premise that the Christian God is God. Good catch.

If it's the first option, I'm interested in further commentary (if you have a moment) on "if the [Christian] God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since the [Christian] God is the precondition of intelligibility."

God - i.e. the only God, the Christian God, is the common creator who provides the fruitful connection between minds and the external (mind-independent)world making intelligibe experience possible. Apart from God there can be no absolutes and, therefore, no proximites, by which to predicate.

I understand the utility of defeating opposing worldviews in defense of the premise, but it seems reasonable that the God of mere theism could provide the precondition of intelligibility.

Tell me about the god of mere theism? Has he revealed himself in Scripture? If yes, then he is God. If he hasn't, then what can we know about him? :)One can only ape those things we know of God.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

There are a number of unique arguments that are called "the transcendental argument", but I think this version is one of the easiest to refute. Consider the proposition P "I do not know that God exists". But if P is true, then Romans 1:19 is false. And if Romans 1:19 is false, then an appeal to the authority of scripture fails to defend that God is the precondition of intelligibility.

Now I know *with certainty* that P is true. How? Because I have immediate access to my knowledge. If I were to in fact know God existed, I'd be the first to know! The only principled (and non-question-begging) way you could avoid this is to embrace extreme skepticism and say that, for all anyone knows, they are wrong about what they think they know. But in that case you likewise could be wrong about anything you think you know. And as a result, you could be wrong in thinking you know that God is the precondition of intelligibility (and all other theological 'knowledge' as well, ouch!).

Of course you could just beg the question against the atheist, but in that case you don't actually have an argument but rather a rhetorical flourish which will probably make everyone (including other Christians) think you're insane or intellectually dishonest, or maybe even both.

MS Quixote said...

Thank you for engaging...much obliged.

"God - i.e. the only God,...by which to predicate."

Without a doubt. Sorry for the ambiguity in my comment; my third and fourth statements were meant as a unit.

"Tell me about the god of mere theism?"

So, given your output here, I have to assume this is rhetorical. :) Nevertheless, I think I've grasped the point. Let me see if I can restate it adequately:

If the Christian God did not exist, then no intelligible experience would exist, which includes the positing of mere theism.

Mere theism itself would be dependent upon the Christian God's revelation, perhaps as apprehended darkly through general revelation by non-believers, and a sort of theological devolution by Christians.

That last dependent clause is challenging to me, but I think it's what I'm hearing, and if I remember my Van Til correctly, seems accurate....something in the neighborhood of beginning one's thought with the presuppositions of non-belief, right?

If that's reasonably close to what you're communicating, then I have a meta-question and I'll get out of your hair:

If supporting premise 2 may be achieved by appealing to Scripture, what extra benefits could we realize with the TAG? If I missed the answer in the OP, I apologize.

Much appreciated...

Reformed Apologist said...


There are a number of unique arguments that are called "the transcendental argument"… but I think this version is one of the easiest to refute.

Well, saying something is so doesn’t make it so, now does it? Let's see what you have to say, shall we? :)

Consider the proposition P "I do not know that God exists". But if P is true, then Romans 1:19 is false. And if Romans 1:19 is false, then an appeal to the authority of scripture fails to defend that God is the precondition of intelligibility.

That you claim that you don’t know that God exists doesn’t establish whether it is true that you don’t know that God exists. But aside from the obvious and even more to the point, your claim that there is no God does not undermine that God is the necessary precondition for intelligible experience - or even the false proposition that God doesn't exist. (Yes, to predicate against God you must presuppose that which only God affords you: knowledge, reality and ethics...)

Unlike with your polemic, with TAG we can look for some way - yet never find one, of establishing intelligible experience apart from God. Whereas not only has your challenge left untouched the transcendental challenge; you've simply made assertions that although presuppose God's existence (predication) they aren't argued (but merely asserted). But even bald assertions presuppose that which you deny, God. For you to make such a claim does in fact presuppose absolutes that you cannot account for apart from God’s existence, but do please feel free to account for those absolutes. In other words, you said you can "refute" TAG, so please do so - refute that God is not the precondition for intelligible experience.

Now I know *with certainty* that P is true. How? Because I have immediate access to my knowledge.

Ah, but aside from the fact you do know God exists, which you haven't yet disproven (let alone have you given account for the laws that govern your contra-assertions etc.) the proposition that you don’t know God exists does not undermine that, or whether, God does exist.

If I were to in fact know God existed, I'd be the first to know!

Your claim presupposes revelation about all other men, which of course would require God’s existence. :) IHO, how would you know you'd be the first to know? Do you have universal experience, which is the same experience you'd need in order to know, apart from God's general revelation, that the law of non-contradiction is true. Or have you experienced ever instance of logic? Yet, notwithstanding, I do think you're presupposing laws in general and logic-laws in particular as you write; ie., when you write x, you don't mean ~x. Aren't you presupposing logic? Is logic a mere convention?

The only principled (and non-question-begging) way you could avoid this is to embrace extreme skepticism and say that, for all anyone knows, they are wrong about what they think they know.

To posit that one can claim he is wrong about everything is, of course, self-refuting. After all, how can one claim to be wrong about everything yet be right about the claim? :)

Reformed Apologist said...

If the Christian God did not exist, then no intelligible experience would exist, which includes the positing of mere theism.

Yes

Mere theism itself would be dependent upon the Christian God's revelation, perhaps as apprehended darkly through general revelation by non-believers, and a sort of theological devolution by Christians.

Yes, but even to posit theism presupposes God.

That last dependent clause is challenging to me, but I think it's what I'm hearing, and if I remember my Van Til correctly, seems accurate....something in the neighborhood of beginning one's thought with the presuppositions of non-belief, right?

2-step apologetic: Step one is to presuppose the unbeliever’s worldview and reduce it to absurdity. “Reductios” are not peculiar to presuppositional apologetics.

Step 2 is to put forth that God is the precondition for reality, knowledge and ethics. Obviously the concept of God fits nicely as the precondition for those philosophical disciplines, but we are not positing a mere conceptual scheme because it works but rather we are putting forth what we know to be true. NOTE: We don’t come to know God exists because he answers life’s questions, but rather we know he exists by nature, in conscience and through the created order; yet notwithstanding God provides the necessary precondition for our conceptual scheme. Nonetheless, conceptual necessity doesn’t imply ontological necessity, and a mere conceptual scheme is arbitrary.

If that's reasonably close to what you're communicating, then I have a meta-question and I'll get out of your hair:

I’m all yours…

If supporting premise 2 may be achieved by appealing to Scripture, what extra benefits could we realize with the TAG? If I missed the answer in the OP, I apologize.

Please, no need to be so tentative. I don’t bite! Step-2 is done apart from Scripture. Someone posits a worldview as accounting for intelligible experience and in turn the Christian apologist does well to perform an internal critique of said worldview, exposing it for arbitrariness and inconsistency. This critique does not depend upon Scripture, which is why some think TAG is inductive and open ended. The proof is a closed loop, but step-2 can go on ad infinitum I suppose. Yet, there are only 2 worldviews really. Those that presuppose revelation and those that don't. We just have to refute the stripe or flavor of the non-revelational, unbelieving worldview. And those that ape Christianity presuppose some sort of revelation.

Much appreciated...
Enjoying the exercise…

Happy to take your call if you prefer. I always prefer talking - more efficient and encouraging...but no pressure, brother.

Beginning to fade... goodnight or maybe good day where you are...

MS Quixote said...

Very gracious. I'd take you up on that at your convenience...

Anonymous said...

Hi. Reading this with interest but I have a question.

I completely agree that this is a logically valid argument but how do you demonstrate the validity of your axioms?

What I mean is, as a Christian it's clear that scripture is the ultimate authority but non-believers will not accept scripture as evidence for God's existence. If they question the validity if the central axiom how do you continue the argument beyond that point?

I think what I'm asking is, is this a "useful" argument to use against non-believers? If they don't accept TAG as valid without first demonstrating the axioms it posits is there any point in using it as an apologetic?

This may be a silly question but were you (or anyone else reading the comments) persuaded by this argument to become a Christian or is this just something you use against non-believers? In either case, how do you demonstrate the validity of the axioms to someone who hasn't yet accepted scripture?

Sorry if this is a bit simplistic. This is still new to me and I'm trying to get my head around the workings of the TAG.

Thanks

David

Reformed Apologist said...

David,

Nobody becomes a believer because of arguments, though arguments can stir reflection. God must grant "knowledge of the truth," which is belief.

Regarding the premises of the argument, let's go one by one.

Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): The Christian God does not exist.

Unbeliever's will not disput that. :)

Step 2 (~A--> B): If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility

That one they will dispute!

Step 3 (~B): There is intelligible experience (Contradiction)

Some might dare to dispute that premise but it's not likely one will try, though I have seen people try. To try to do so is self-refuting because to dispute something presupposes intelligible experience exists.

Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)

They will dispute that but the real dispute is with 2, from which 4 follows (because of 3 coupled with 2).

Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation.)

Again, as with 4 they will dispute 5, but the dispute is with 2.

I say all that to point out that they don't have an issue with many premises but rather with one premise, #2. Now we simply ask someone to justify intelligible experience apart from God's existence. Then we show how such a notion reduces to arbitrariness and inconsistency.

Thoughts?

Reformed Apologist said...

MSQ - if you post your private email or phone number I won't publish it. Then I'll make contact with you.

Anonymous said...

HI Ron,
Thanks for reposting this dialog.
As a follow-up to our original exchange above, I thought I would mention that Scott Oliphant's Covenental Apologetics addresses all of my questions posed above, from the Presuppositional and VanTillian perspective.
You might want to check him out.
He seems to be aware of the validity of my concerns, and I might add, that he answered them quite well in his book. Just as an FYI.
-Jay.

Reformed Apologist said...

Great, Jay. What did you learn?

Anonymous said...

Probably the most important lesson was that true presuppositionalism, as taught by Van Til, is in fact trinitarian. A full Christian apologetic for the revealed "I AM" of the scriptures must include the condescension of God as a key component of argument, so as not to put forth merely a counterfeit deism. In other words, God's asiety and complete "otherness" separated from his humanity as expressed in the incarnation of Christ - his life, death and resurrection - leaves people only with a distant, foreign notion of 'god' that any man-made religion can acknowledge but which lacks true knowledge, wisdom or power.
If that interests you, I'd recommend Oliphant's work.
Peace - Jay

Reformed Apologist said...

Sounds great, Jay. I saw on Greenbaggins that Alan Strange thinks well of the book, as does Lane (Greenbaggins). Certainly Dr. Oliphint is well qualified to write on the subject.

Anonymous said...

#2: If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility
For myself, I thought that it ought to read,
If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligible experience.
To be honest, I am not sure that the precondition of intelligible experience is the same thing as the precondition of intelligibility. But first, what does it mean to be the precondition of intelligible experience? You wrote,
God - i.e. the only God, the Christian God, is the common creator who provides the fruitful connection between minds and the external (mind-independent)world making intelligible experience possible.
I'm not sure what 'fruitful connection' means. For example Kant maintained a connection between the mind and the external world in making intelligible experience possible - but was it "fruitful"? Not if you wanted to have knowledge of what was really out there; the things-in-themselves were unknown. His 'connection' led to skepticism. I suppose by 'fruitful connection' you mean knowledge of things-in-themselves? To be less Kantian, God guarantees that the structure of our minds and the external world are such that our minds can both know there is an external world and know the external world as it really is in itself?

Reformed Apologist said...

Intelligible experience pertains to knowledge or inference that is not a priori. God is the precondition for intelligible experience, but more than that He is the precondition for intelligibility (of which intelligible experience is a subset). Indeed, I could have written it as you say but the way it’s written says a bit more. God is the precondition of all intelligibility and, therefore, intelligible experience as well. However, saying it your way in no way lessens the point I’m trying to make.

Yes, all Kant did was psychologize science; he could never get outside the mind-independent world in order to draw rational inference about God’s providential order.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reply -I appreciate it. However, may I ask you to clarify further?
By 'fruitful connection' do you mean knowledge of things-in-themselves? Is it that God guarantees that the structure of our minds and the external world are such that our minds can both know there is an external world and know the external world as it really is in itself? Not a "knowledge", mind you, that's only as good as far as it goes, but knowledge of the external world as it is in itself,

Thanks again!

Reformed Apologist said...


Keep in mind, knowledge of how the external world "is in iteself" should not be thought of in terms of things having meaning by virtue of their relationship to other things, but rather in terms of what God thinks regarding how particulars relate to a larger one. Truth and meaning is not deposited in impersonal things, whether in prime matter or ultimate being, but rather in the mind of a personal God who is One and Many.

So, when we draw inference as we ought, our minds are intersecting with God's mind as we draw rational inference regarding God's providential dealings. We are just mapping out what God is doing. The fruitful connection is that God has given us a mind that gets outside itself and relates to the mind-independent outside world - for a common creator stands behind both, our abstract (not material) minds and the external, material world.

Anonymous said...

Hi - Thanks again.

Let me try to clarify my question:
In intelligible experience there are three distinct things (at least so far as I can tell)- God, our minds, and the real external world. It's reasonable to think that there are truths about my mind which are not truths about God, nor are they truths about the real external world. The same can be said in reference to the other two. My question concerning intelligible experience is does the fruitful connection that God establishes mean that the human mind can know truths about the real external world (not truths about my mind or God)? [I contrasted that with Kant who denied that our minds can know truths about the real external world as an example of a philosophy seeking to establish intelligible experience - but winding up with skepticism on the issue].

Thanks for your patience,

Reformed Apologist said...

No patience being exercised. These are good sincere questions.

In intelligible experience there are three distinct things (at least so far as I can tell)- God, our minds, and the real external world.

Fair enough. Let’s go with that.

It's reasonable to think that there are truths about my mind which are not truths about God, nor are they truths about the real external world.

You know propositions that although are not “about God” they nonetheless relate to God. All truth resides in the eternal mind of God. Truth is mental and presupposes an eternal mind. But yes, all what you know might not be about God but it all relates to God.

The same can be said in reference to the other two.

Truths about the external world cannot exist in and of themselves. God gives causality and relationships their meaning. The one and the many finds its solution in the one God who is plurality and unity. So, if what you mean makes room for that, then no problem. If not, maybe we should re-circle the wagon around that one.

My question concerning intelligible experience is does the fruitful connection that God establishes mean that the human mind can know truths about the real external world (not truths about my mind or God)?

Yes, as long as you maintain that truths about the external world presupposes God as the one who gives the external world meaning.

[I contrasted that with Kant who denied that our minds can know truths about the real external world as an example of a philosophy seeking to establish intelligible experience - but winding up with skepticism on the issue].

Kant knew things but yes, that's correct, his philosophy was inconsistent with knowledge and it reduced to skepticism.

Am I addressing your questions? If not, then please be patient with me! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reply. I am satisfied with this part of the discussion - I just wanted to make sure [some] knowledge of the external world -as it really is -can be had thru experience on your view (no ultimate skepticism) and I will leave it at that.
May I circle the wagon -as you say - to another question?
What is the meaning of intelligibility here? I just want to be sure I understand, since this seems an important point.

Thanks,

Reformed Apologist said...

What is the meaning of intelligibility here?

You've been employing the term throughout so maybe you might tell me what you mean. It might make it easier for me to respond. :)

Your posts are always separated by considerable time so I trust this is not too pressing a matter for you. However, if you post a phone number I'll call you if you prefer. It might be easier.

Vincent said...

Im just wondering how can you prove that Christianity is the only worldview to be supported by this argument? The Christian God is definitely sufficient but that doesn't mean necessary. The 2nd premise(or step) is the premise that I don't understand how it works.

Reformed Apologist said...

Vincent,

Maybe one would first have to predicate about the other "God" in order for me to address your question. Once the other God is put forth, I'll show how this other concept of God is merely aping the true God. If the concept does not ape Christianity, then I'll show how this other God does cannot be the precondition for intelligible experience. At this point, I can't refute hypothetical gods. Fair enough?

Vincent said...

Definitely, I'm just not understanding the second premise. Im getting stuck on premise 2. How can I defend this premise? You're right to say this is where Christians get tripped up.

Reformed Apologist said...

Does this post help?

http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/03/impropriety-of-trying-to-prove.html

Vincent said...

Can you explain why the Christian God is necessary for intelligibility? Is it because the other worldviews cannot support it?

Reformed Apologist said...

Vincent,

I referenced another post. Have you read it? If so, then please put more effort into your question.

Vincent said...

Is the move from conceptual necessity to necessary existence justified? I'm sorry if my question has already been addressed or makes no sense. Also, how affective is this argument?

Reformed Apologist said...

No, such a move would be invalid.

Vincent said...

Isn't that the same move here or am i just mistaken? I'm probably mistaken but I thought it was worth asking .

Reformed Apologist said...

No. Kant went for conceptual necessity. It fails in skepticim. Conceptual necessity doesn't imply ontological necessity. Our precondition is necessary yet real, therefore, irrefutable. It saves knowledge. This isn't just rhetoric. It's a Reformed insight that I'm happy to unpack.

Anonymous said...

Is there such a thing as unintelligible experience? What is that -and are there any examples?

Thanks,

Reformed Apologist said...

No and even such an idea presupposes Christianity. Thx

Anonymous said...

what do you mean by
"such an idea presupposes Christianity?"

Thx

Reformed Apologist said...

The idea could not exist without God and the justification of the idea could not exist without Scripture.

Anonymous said...

I like this:

"... with TAG we can look for some way - yet never find one, of establishing intelligible experience apart from God. Whereas not only has your challenge left untouched the transcendental challenge; you've simply made assertions that although presuppose God's existence (predication) they aren't argued (but merely asserted). But even bald assertions presuppose that which you deny, God. For you to make such a claim does in fact presuppose absolutes that you cannot account for apart from God’s existence, but do please feel free to account for those absolutes. In other words, you said you can "refute" TAG, so please do so - refute that God is not the precondition for intelligible experience."

Anonymous said...

People need to grasp that the argument is technically valid. Even an atheist can see that. Then they might try to refute the the premises. Obviously they cannot but their frustration will not turn them into believers. They need grace.

Anonymous said...

In other words, you said you can "refute" TAG, so please do so - refute that God is not the precondition for intelligible experience."

OK but first just what is intelligible experience?
as far as I can tell per this thread,
"Intelligible experience pertains to knowledge or inference that is not a priori." OK..I also asked can there be non-intelligible experience? we were told No. OK...and this intelligible experience is a fruitful connection between my mind and the external world (ie getting truths). Ok..
so,
let's say I'm driving home from work late at night and perceive some lights ahead of me and make the non-apriori inference that there is an obstruction ahead of me and I swerve out of the way. Turns out there was nothing actually there, yet I still retain the belief there was.
Now I obviously do not know there was something there, nor does my non apriori inference seem very fruitful (got a falsehood and risked my life at the same time) - is this not an example of a non-intelligible experience?
And, what exactly are the rules of validity of alleged non-apriori inference and where exactly are these rules justified in Scriptures?
Thx

Reformed Apologist said...

is this not an example of a non-intelligible experience?

No, it’s not an example of non-intelligible experience, whatever that means to you. Your predication of your experience – "I infer obstruction" – is meaningful. It’s even true – you perceived lights; yet your predication would be false – "the perceived lights imply obstruction."

In any case, the point you’re not dealing with is that even contradiction presupposes God.Even the intelligibility of non-Christian claims presupposes God. This is true even when the claims are false! To argue badly presupposes God. For you to refute this you will need to show how another worldview supplies the necessary conditions for intelligibility.

To deny Christ is to forgo the precondition of causality and meaning – “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Anonymous said...

I like reading the comments.

Nice:

"Keep in mind, knowledge of how the external world "is in iteself" should not be thought of in terms of things having meaning by virtue of their relationship to other things, but rather in terms of what God thinks regarding how particulars relate to a larger one. Truth and meaning is not deposited in impersonal things, whether in prime matter or ultimate being, but rather in the mind of a personal God who is One and Many.

So, when we draw inference as we ought, our minds are intersecting with God's mind as we draw rational inference regarding God's providential dealings. We are just mapping out what God is doing. The fruitful connection is that God has given us a mind that gets outside itself and relates to the mind-independent outside world - for a common creator stands behind both, our abstract (not material) minds and the external, material world."

Reformed Apologist said...

Ash,

Your post was deleted and, therefore, cannot be resurrected other than by cutting and pasting it. I'll interact with it below.

First, I would ask you to define intelligibility. From what I have seen of apologist writings , it is thrown about with such carelessness that it has no clear meaning.

It’s irrelevant to the argument since it’s not the same as intelligible experience. You must find them to be the same thing.

I would define the term thus: the ability of something to be aware and to identify things without contraction,or,alternatively, it is simply our ability to comprehend things.

Contradiction can result in real intelligible experience but actual contradiction itself is not intelligible, otherwise it wouldn’t be a contradiction.I experience your contradictions and that experience of your unintelligible contradictions is intelligible. :)

Secondly, the argument is invalid in that there is no valid or reasonable argument to suggest that a worldview in itself provides the source for the necessary preconditions of intelligibility.

The argument is indeed valid (whether it has true premises or not). Validity is only concerned with the form of the argument.

Thirdly, the argument is logically questionable.

Well, which is it? Is the argument invalid or is it merely questionable? All I’m detecting is that(i) you don’t know what constitutes a valid argument and (ii) you don’t like where the argument leads you.

It argues that the Christian worldview provides the necessary preconditions of intelligibility,

No, it argues that God exists.It asserts that God provides the necessary preconditions of intelligible experience, which is not the same thing as intelligibility. To argue against God you must use the tools that can only exist if God exists.

however, the worldview could not be based on these preconditions since they don't exist independently of the worldview.

Although you’re not addressing the argument, this principle is (also) very confused and wrongheaded. God is not independent?! He is not only near, He is transcendent.

Therefore, the worldview alone is not the source, because this would undermine the idea that source of these preconditions is intelligible.

The worldview is not posited as the source of anything.

The rest of what you wrote is based upon these misunderstandings so I’ll refrain from interacting with those things.

Ash said...

I feel you have perhaps misunderstood some of my points- I too misunderstood. There are variations of the TAG argument, and the one presented to me didn't argue God, it argued the Christian worldview. Now, although i feel you may have misunderstood what i was trying to say ,and maybe understandably so, i can find more problems with TAG that I may be able to explain clearer. Although you can write the argument different ways, it generally boils down to this: 1: if there is no God, then intelligible experience (I.e the laws of logic) are not possible. 2 : We know knowledge exist because we are able to have this discussion. 3 : Therefore , God exist. Now, as you know, the largest criticism is based upon the premise within 1 - without a God, knowledge is not possible. I would agree with the criticism. I think the argument misunderstands on a basic level what knowledge, reason and the laws of logic are. All knowledge must pertain to the laws of logic( yes, you can find contradictions intelligible, but why? Because the laws of logic have told you so.) The laws of logic, in language, is a description necessary truths. This you may agree with me, for us to have knowledge, the laws of logic are necessary. Again, if they weren't, this conversation would be meaningless. However, like i said, within language we do not find laws of logic. We describe them. Our description is not equal to what they are. You said that actual contradiction is not possible. This is one of the laws of logic. An objective truth. A=A this truth is necessary. The description isn't. It exists without our language. Basically what I am arguing is that the 'law' is not the same as the 'fact' . If there were no minds capable of thought, the fact of logic, the necessary truths, remain. What this shows,is that these facts of logic, do not depend on our minds, suggesting that our description of them as laws do not come from God, but are there because they are there necessarily there. This supports my belief of an infinite universe. TAG suggests the exact opposite, that laws of logic are prescriptive and come from our minds. Because these facts exist constantly, reality must exist. There are always facts, facts must exist. There are always facts, facts must exist about something, something must exist. Nothing cannot exist. If the universe were to have been created, the facts of logic. (Or, perhaps, the facts of existence) could not exist at all there must have always been something for the facts to apply to because if there had been a time where these facts did not exist ( or, entity who these do not apply to) then these facts could not have exist in the first place due to their constant and necessary nature. To argue otherwise would be to misunderstand. The laes aren't prescriptive things that the universe must obey. Thus, although this argument doesn't remove the possibility of a God, it does show that TAG in no way, shape , or form proves it.

Manny said...

An unjustified appeal to scripture is no more logical than an unjustified appeal to any other book, which is contradictory. " Premise 1" is not a premise , it is an introduction, and a somewhat illogical one at that. You have provided no reason to believe there is a need for a precondition of intellgible experience, but my preconditions are 1. Intended meaning, 2. Intellgible communication, and 3. Sufficient reception.

Reformed Apologist said...

Manny,

Step 1, God does not exist, is indeed a premise. It's a proposition that is either true or false. Asserting it is not and claiming it is illogical is not very interesting or interactive. Secondly, it's fallacious to assert that it's unjustifiable to appeal to Scripture, though the proof itself doesn't. In addition, if revelation is the precondition for the jusfication of knowledge and logic presuoposes God, then these things will come up, which you've failed to deal with adequately. Lastly, your 1, 2 and 3 presuppose that which cannot be accounted for apart from God who makes these things possible. You might try to account for true meaning apart from God.

Todd said...

Manny said: "You have provided no reason to believe there is a need for a precondition of intellgible experience, but my preconditions are 1. Intended meaning, 2. Intellgible communication, and 3. Sufficient reception."

Does Manny really want to say that intended meaning is a precondition for intelligible experience? I do not think Manny has thought hard enough about his views. :) I am very interested in knowing how Manny can utter anything that he thinks can be understood by another person without PRESUPPOSING a person can understand his meaning. If he PRESUPPOSES that then there must be more to this than molecules. How does Manny account for other minds????

Reformed Apologist said...

Todd,

Manny wants to know why logic presupposes God. What's interesting is he must realize that God is a viable explanation for logic and he is incapable of justifying logic apart from God. After all, how can he justify any universal abstract entity that is invariant in nature? He hasn't considered how logic comports with the presuppositions of naturalism or whatever he thinks he is. He must borrow from God in order to try to argue Him away.

Ash said...

I'm just trying to clarity where you stand,because I honestly do feel , for starters it isn't valid, and secondly that even if it were, it doesn't justify Christianity. However I'll wait for a response before i say anything else, lest I'm already being stupid.

Reformed Apologist said...

Ash,

Validity only pertains to the form of an argument. That the argument is valid should not be a matter of dispute.

You wrote in an unpublished post: "Therefore, I would have to presuppose the truth of Christianity to be true for me to be able to argue, which is clearly wrong."

Ash, you presuppose *God*, which can happen without you realizing it; just like you presuppose logic without realizing you can't account for it.

I'll explain these things to you over the phone but that's it. There are too many basics you're missing, which makes a different forum more conducive.

Manny said...

Your logic: God is the precondition of intelligibility because God is the precondition of intelligibility. That's what logical people call " circular ".

Reformed Apologist said...

There's nothing circular about the 5 step proof put forth in the post.

You simply reject step 2 because you don't like the proposition, but that isn't a refutation of step 2. I suppose if you could defend knowledge, reality or ethics on atheistic grounds you would have done so by now. As it stands, your worldview is arbitrary and inconsistent.

Manny said...

I DO NOT REJECT IT, I SIMPLY REFUSE TO ACCEPT IT because I have no reason to. I will now prove God's nonexistence. Step 1: assume food exist. Step 2: If God exist, then a spaghetti cannot exist. Step 3: because spaghetti exist, we know God doesn't. I can't believe you still don't see your own arbitrarity.

Reformed Apologist said...

Manny,

Your reason to accept God is you cannot account for knowledge, reality or ethics without him.

Regarding your argument, you cannot show why God is a sufficient condition for non Spaghetti (or that non spaghetti is a necessary condition for God). On the other hand, you can (and do) understand that God can provide the condition for intelligible experience. In fact, you know this God, your judge. You will also one day bend the knee to Christ the Lord. I just hope it's before you die.

Anonymous said...

"I DO NOT REJECT IT, I SIMPLY REFUSE TO ACCEPT IT"

Manny, you are embarrassing yourself. To willfully "refuse" to accept the truth of x is to willfully reject the truth of x. There is no third alternative.

Anonymous said...

"Regarding your argument, you cannot show why God is a sufficient condition for non Spaghetti (or that non spaghetti is a necessary condition for God). On the other hand, you can (and do) understand that God can provide the condition for intelligible experience."

Perfect! That is why Manny is arbitrary and it explains that he would rather hope against hope! How irrational is sin!

Manny said...

See, this is what I'm talking about. You just assert whatever works for you. The universe is a sufficient precondition to my preconditions of intelligibility and knowledge.

Reformed Apologist said...

How does the universe explain truth given truth presupposes a divine mind? After all, truth is immaterial and not concrete, yet by the nature of the case it must exist always and somewhere otherwise it wouldn't be truth. How does chance acting upon matter over time produce truth?

Anonymous said...

Manny:

Do you at least understand that pasta noodles cannot account for logic and that the concept of God can? If you can grasp that maybe we can consider other things like vegetables and trees. Up until now you have just been stomping your feet and saying absurd things.

Reformed Apologist said...

Actually it's worse than that. His point is that non Spaghetti is a precondition for God. In any case, it's implicit in his reasoning that all arguments must be arbitrary by his standards. He's just an angry person who has given very little thought to these matters. He's so bad off that he could benefit from many professing atheists. They certainly wouldn't stand shoulder to shoulder with Manny.

Manny, if you'd like to continue it must be by phone. You need grave spiritual help and allowing you to post is not profitable to your soul. Post your phone number and I won't publsh it, though I'll call you.

Reformed Apologist said...

Manny

If you're reading in mobile version you might miss some responses, which would be at the bottom. If you're in desk top mode then you're probably current.

Anonymous said...

" How does the universe explain truth given truth presupposes a divine mind? After all, truth is immaterial and not concrete, yet by the nature of the case it must exist always and somewhere otherwise it wouldn't be truth. How does chance acting upon matter over time produce truth?"
Couldn't objectivism explain truth and logic?

Anonymous said...

Also, can you explain how truth presupposes a divine mind a little further. I really didn't catch it.

Reformed Apologist said...

Couldn't objectivism explain truth and logic?

Simple questions are often best answered simply. To your question, no, objectivism cannot explain truth and logic. If you think it can then please reconcile the arbitrary tenets of objectivism with the nature of truth.

Also, can you explain how truth presupposes a divine mind a little further. I really didn't catch it.

Truth exists as eternal and unchanging. To deny truth’s existence, eternality or immutability is self-refuting. Rather than demonstrating this, I’ll entertain a denial of the maxim should you like to posit one.

Now then, we most likely agree that truth exists in minds. My claim is that it only exists in minds. If you care to deny this then please tell me where 2 + 2 = 4 exists other than in minds. If you say “in nature” I’m going to ask you to tell me where in nature. Do propositions and does understanding live under rocks, or inside of trees? Do they exist in gaseous form, solids or liquids? Where other than minds does truth reside?

If no human minds existed or if all human minds were destroyed, where would 2+2 = 4 exist other than in God’s mind? If you say it wouldn’t exist at all, then you’ve just denied that truth is unchanging. That would mean that 2+2=4 was not always true and then became true.

Finally, truth presupposes that what we think can actually correspond in a non-arbitrary and absolute sense to the external stuff out there in nature. But note well that all we witness is matter in motion. If what we see has true meaning and is rational, then there must be truth which our minds cannot create (lest it would be subjective “truth” [a contradictory non-entity] and certainly not eternal). Truth cannot reside in the discrete events of nature, which follow one another. Either we’re just interpreting the physical world in an arbitrary fashion, fooling ourselves that things aren’t truly as they appear, or we are interpreting nature rationally and according to true meaning, which implies true absolutes and true proximates. Yet such rationality is not physical; it’s abstract (i.e. not material in nature). As such, rationality cannot exist in the material nexus of events. It must exist in non-physical form. In fact, causality isn’t something we actually see. We see A then we see B. Causality is the relationship that the non-material mind imposes upon the physical act of A as it relates to B.

But, this is all idiosyncratic and arbitrary if truth originates in our individual minds. And, as already noted, truth being non-physical cannot reside in the material substances themselves. It exists in minds and cannot be created or destroyed. That you’re reading this now is an eternal truth. It was always true and always will be true that you read this post at the time you do. That truth has always existed in God’s mind and always will.

The non-Christian worldview cannot reconcile epistemology and metaphysics. We need a Creator and a doctrine of providence. We need a divine revelation of God and self.

Calypso said...

How would you define intellgible experience?

Reformed Apologist said...

Which word are you having trouble with?

Anonymous said...

Living proof of the Scriptures right before our eyes. Hasn't God made foolish the wisdom of this world? There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Reformed Apologist said...

What is not grasped by those who are ending up in the spam folder is that intelligible experience need not result in knowledge. In fact, it is very intelligible to experience contradictions and false inferences, such as musings of professing atheists. To experience an illusion or making a blunder is not to know the truth of something false. Notwithstanding, the experience can be most understandable.

Anonymous said...

...The idea on "truth" shouldn't be used to describe nature philosophically, as its meaning isn't even entirely clear.

Reformed Apologist said...

The meaning of truth isn't clear? Is that true?

Anonymous said...

Philosophers have been debating the meaning of truth for centuries; the fact that I believe that one statement probably fits it doesn't make it any more clear.

Reformed Apologist said...

What's both true and clear is without my help you've reduced yourself to skepticism.

Todd said...

Exactly. She painted herself into a corner. No definition of truth and lots of unargued assertions we are to accept as true on her say so.

Anonymous said...

Do we really need a justification for intelligibility? This would seem to me at least be a basic belief and wouldn't require justification.

Reformed Apologist said...

There are no freebies in philosophy. How does the unbelieving worldview account for reality, knowledge and ethics?

Reformed Apologist said...

"That's the unbelievers problem . I'm just wondering if intellgibillty would be considered a properly basic belief?"

Intelligilble experience is not a belief, properly considered.

Hinata said...

Logic;a human reflex that involves weighing the different options and deciding the best choice. This occurs in the cerebellum, and uses a form of "empathy". Reality; I don't see the issue of explaining reality without a good. We are here , and we observe what is presented to us. Ethics; it's easy to think that there's an absolute, but think about it . I think sleeping around is okay ,you probably disagree. I think abortions are okay,you don't, etc. Now these are just slightly conflicting patterns. Imagine the difference between us and the Zulu tribe who believed murder was extremely moral. And i actually that anything can be explained,and there's no such thing as the supernatural. It's just something yet to be explained.

Reformed Apologist said...

Presumably you disagree with any subculture that would call murder moral, yet apparently you are not willing to call abortion murder.

How much "sleeping around" is OK? Whatever limits you place upon it, they must be arbitrary and idiosyncratic.

The cerebellum is material but logic is not. Accordingly the brain cannot account for logic. Indeed not even the human mind can. Moreover, the laws of logic, being universal and invariant, are not dependent on empathy lest they wouldn't be unchanging laws.

I could say more but I trust it would be fruitless.

Anonymous said...

"Intelligible experience is not a belief, properly considered. "
May you explain my mistake a little further?

Reformed Apologist said...

Pain, for example, is an experience. You do not believe pain. It's not the belief nor the proposition though indeed you can predicate about pain and believe it is true or false. In any case, I'll only discuss over the phone. Thx

skylar said...

Properly basic beliefs cannot be evidentially justified. We know them by intuition, such as the laws of logic and mathematics. I did muse, however, that even these beliefs are justified--not by external evidence, but by the fact that their denial requires their employment. One cannot deny the laws of logic, for example, without using the laws of logic to do so. Because this is self-refuting, it is itself justification for these properly basic beliefs.
I simply call this type of thing an assumption based on necessity. It's necessary, otherwise literally nothing would make sense. If we're all a brain in a vat somewhere, then so be it. But until some kind of evidence for that comes into view, we have to assume - out of necessity - that what we're experiencing is, in fact, real.

Reformed Apologist said...

So, in all those words conceptual necessity implies ontological necessity? There are no freebies in philosophy. You must account for truth, which is to say reconcile it with your naturalistic view of things.

Vincent said...

(I believe you're a realist. I know Bahnsen was)Does quatam mechanics debunk realism? Here the video and why I ask :https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5pq7W5yRM

Reformed Apologist said...

Common sense realism? Platonic realism? Contemporary realism...? At any rate, I suppose I can't understand your question because it implies I might hold to x while believing y debunks x. Regarding quantum mechanics and the so-called uncertainty principle, the inability to measure precisely doesn't imply that things don't behave precisely. It's a fallacy of equivocation to transfer imprecise quantifiable considerations to the realm of metaphysics.

Vincent said...

I was just wondering your thoughts. I think I was assuming epistemological realist. Which I'm sorry if I've assumed anything that is untrue. You're incredibly intelligent and your blog shows this. So, that's why I asked. Thank you

Reformed Apologist said...

Well, yes, I do affirm a mind-independent world but there is no chaos as some quantum physicists like to think. They present no problem to divine providence. :)

Vincent said...

I was also wondering if quantum mechanics debunks realism because it seems to point towards idealism. As Inspiringphilosophy(idealist/monist) is advocating that it points towards libertarian free will.

Reformed Apologist said...

chaos is irrational

Dan said...

We can know what's moral because we evolved as social creatures and our objective method to figure out the distinction between the two are the consequences of the action.

Reformed Apologist said...

Evolution brings forth morality? Chance acting upon matter over time produces non-material morality? Hitler's evolution and objectivity caused him to arrive at the same objective morality we find revealed in Scripture?

Vincent said...

" chaos is irrational". Sorry if I'm being annoying but can you say a little more about this?

Reformed Apologist said...

Secular philosophy reduces to chaos and defies the law of non-contradiction; yet even to predicate about chaos requires logic. As far as chaos existing within a world of rational causality and providence, that too is internally contradictory since chaos couldn't exist if God is sovereign; yet eliminate God and we have no rationality, which is ultimate chaos. But, ultimate chaos as a concept, not a metaphysical reality, presupposes truth and falsity, which prespposes God. Are you opposed to talking?

Dan said...

No, I was saying since we evolved and found that being social creatures are more advantageous and forming a logical mind. We can know from the consequences of the actions. I also was advocating that presuppostionalist are guilty of special pleading and I believe I responded to the conceptual scheme comment.

Vincent said...

What I'm asking how should a Christian interpret the findings of quantum mechanics? " Are you opposed to talking?" I love talking! If you were to talk to the people around me they might say I talk to much. I only wish not to be pestering you. But back to the quantum mechanics problem, from the video I watched. Quatam mechanics advocates(with the double slit experiment ) that a mind independent world doesn't exist. Which pushes out realism(and materialism). But Clearly the bible doesn't say that the world is just a concept. Genesis 1 points to God actually creating the world. So, I was wondering your opinion on this.

Reformed Apologist said...

Vincent,

Great, post a phone number and I'll call but not publsh your post.

Vincent said...

I'm helping a friend move right now. So, can you answer the question on here and if I don't understand I will send my number?

Reformed Apologist said...

No. Each answer is met with a flurry of more questions. That's just the nature of these things. Look at it this way, if you can't afford the time to talk, you can't afford the time to think about what I could write. So, when things settle down for you, you'll have time both to talk and reflect. :)

Those are the terms, Friend. My time is valuable too. :) We can talk when you're able. Bye for now.

Anthony said...

You do realize you cannot appeal to the Bible as the ultimate authority, because you have to use reason and logic to even make such a claim. Logic is the ultimate authority and that is inescapable, because any claim you can make requires logic. That is just common sense.
Second, the only reason you think Christianity is the ultimate authority is because you used your reason to come to it.
We know the Bible is true because, as St. Basil said, it conforms perfectly to what is logically and scientifically true.

Reformed Apologist said...

You’ve committed the common fallacy of conflating the preconditions for making a claim with the preconditions for the proposition of the claim. The proposition of the claim exists prior to it being claimed, let alone being discovered. Accordingly, the preconditions for *making* a claim, which is not limited to logic but would also include birth and many other things, is not relevant to the preconditions of the proposition. After all, the sky is blue is not dependent upon it being claimed. Yet the claim is dependent upon logic, which is all you’ve pointed out. That the latter is true is rather uninteresting with respect to how we might justify the intelligibility of any proposition. The same goes for logic. That logic must be employed to assert anything about Scripture does not address the justification for logic. If we apply your reasoning, then we should conclude that you're more ultimate than God since to predicate about God you must first exist (just as logic must exist to make claims about Scripture).

You wrote: "We know the Bible is true because, as St. Basil said, it conforms perfectly to what is logically and scientifically true."

That something in your estimation conforms to what is true does not make it revelation. Even more, tell me how science confirms the resurrection.

Regarding science:
http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2006/05/induction-and-knowledge.html

Anonymous said...

Anthony thinks the laws of logic begin with man and that truth makers are man. Obviously he doesn't really think that. Obviously he hasn't tbought about his illogical claims.

Ip said...

"The sky is blue" is a coherent logical claim, right? You can't make such a claim unless you assume logic works. So if you want to argue the Bible is true you must assume you can logically reason to that first. Your claims depend on the assumption logic works.

Historical investigation confirms the resurrection. Don't try that atheist circular argument that science says people do not rise from the dead because we have never seen it. No one claims science can explain the resurrection since it was supernatural.
See Act 17:31 Where Paul argues from the eye witnesses of the resurrection.

Reformed Apologist said...

Same fallacy as Anthony's. That *claims* presuppose logic does not address the preconditions for such a transcendental as logic. You haven't touched the preconditions for the abstract laws of logic (God), let alone a justification for their intelligiblilty (revelation). All you've said is that utterance prespposes logic. Not very insightful.

Your second paragraph is a fragmented and lacks any discernable progression of thought.

Maybe try to find any philosopher, Christian or secular, who believes as you and Anthony believe.

Don said...

LP is confused. "Historical investigation confirms the resurrection." And he says: "No one claims science can explain the resurrection since it was supernatural." When LP appeals to historical evidence he is appealing to a claim of scientific proportions. Laughable

Reformed Apologist said...

Yes, not understanding the basics and implications of one's own position is a problem.

Anonymous said...

Guys like lp need to read a bit more. They show themselves unapproved.

Anthony said...

Doesn't Paul in 1Corinthians 15 argue from eye witnesses that the resurrection happened?

Reformed Apologist said...

Anthony,

No, he doesn't. He makes no argument for the resurrection, let alone based upon eyewitnesses of the resurrection.

For one thing, nobody witnessed the resurrection. People witnessed the Lord before and after the cross. Accordingly, Paul *declares* the resurrection, but he doesn't argue for it.

Scripture reports facts and then interprets them for us. We have knowledge based upon the sure word of God, not speculative inferences or "evidence that demands a verdict". Same goes for the gospel accounts. If John was giving a proof to persuade, he wouldn't have included the testimony of Mary being a woman. As pointed out Sunday, such would have been inadmissible in the ancient world. He includes her merely because he was relaying the events accurately, but the events (and all of life for that matter) only corroborate the truth and declaration that Christ has risen.

Reformed Apologist said...

Being confused is not such a terrible thing. Being confused and strident is another matter. The tenor of Anthony's more recent post is much more fitting. These can be difficult matters but once understood they will have a profound influence, even salvific. Those who believe based upon anything other revelation are lost. I suspect many savingly believe yet then defend all sorts of bad arguments that in essence deny the only object of knowledge by which we might be saved.

Tim said...

LP realizes logic works but he does not get that logic must be accounted for within the system that it is used. That presents a problem for those who do not begin with Scripture. R.A. Is again correct that nobody witnessed the resurrrction. The resurrection occurred behind closed doors. Those who dismiss the possibility of resurrection will never interpret the facts as affirming it. This is why the Scriptures don't argue evidentially. They presippose and declare it and all the facts corroborate it. To offer an apologetic that is based upon the evidentialist approach is to deny the authority of Scripture! One as steeped in Bahnsen as you are knows this already but guys like LP are incapable of seeing it until God opens their minds. Keep up the excellent work.

Reformed Apologist said...

Good thoughts, Tim. LP communicated to me that logic is inescapable, which it is. Unfortunately, he thinks that such an observation needs no philosophical defense. Moreover, he keeps repeating that since we understand Scripture according to logic, then logic must be ultimate. Yet as I've pointed out, there are many things that understanding Scripture presupposes, like being human. Is humanness more ultimate than God's revelation? LP never argues or interacts. He just rambles. He's been censured before.

You know it's bad when one quotes Thomas Nagel favorably.

Anonymous said...

This bears repeating:

Ron said: You’ve committed the common fallacy of conflating the preconditions for making a claim with the preconditions for the proposition of the claim. The proposition of the claim exists prior to it being claimed, let alone being discovered. Accordingly, the preconditions for *making* a claim, which is not limited to logic but would also include birth and many other things, is not relevant to the preconditions of the proposition. After all, the sky is blue is not dependent upon it being claimed. Yet the claim is dependent upon logic, which is all you’ve pointed out. That the latter is true is rather uninteresting with respect to how we might justify the intelligibility of any proposition. The same goes for logic. That logic must be employed to assert anything about Scripture does not address the justification for logic. If we apply your reasoning, then we should conclude that you're more ultimate than God since to predicate about God you must first exist (just as logic must exist to make claims about Scripture).

IP said...

Logic is not contingent on us. We only discover what is logically true, so it is not dependent on me..... Besides you do know that Descartes demonstrated we must exist before we can reach any other conclusions? Accepting something is true doesn't mean you think you're greater than God, just that you have to accept some truths before you move to greater ones.

Reformed Apologist said...

You're posts are all over the place. As for Descartes, that's probably the most classic example of question begging. I think therefore I am skips a premise, hence the fallacy. I think therefore there is thinking would have been about the best he could have done. You've had enough chances. Bye

Anonymous said...

"As for Descartes, that's probably the most classic example of question begging."

Oops

Anonymous said...

Ilp me thinks you're in over your head just a bit

Reformed Apologist said...

Dan

One doesn't choose to be a logical creature. Clarkians get this wrong too. After all, one would first need to be created as one in order to assess its logical advantage. Secondly, yet related, to evaluate the consequences of actions presupposes innate logic, something you deny. As for special pleading, you've found none of that in my posts. Frankly, I'm not sure how you can be a fair judge of anything philosophical given all your internal inconsistencies, arbitrariness and incorrect use of terms.

You have one governing presupposition, which is actually a wish: there is no God. You will not be pontificating like this at the final judgment .

Anonymous said...

I was just looking around through some blogs . I came across an argument. I'd like to get your take on it.

"Step 1: Truth rests exclusively on the primacy of existence metaphysics:
P1-1: If truth is the identification of reality based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity (such as preferences, likes and dislikes, wishes, fantasies, emotions, temper tantrums, evasion, etc.), then truth rests exclusively on the primacy of existence metaphysics.
P1-2: Truth is the identification of reality based on facts which obtain independently of conscious activity (such as preferences, likes and dislikes, wishes, fantasies, emotions, temper tantrums, evasion, etc.).
C1: Therefore, truth rests exclusively on the primacy of existence metaphysics.
Step 2: Theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics:
P2-1: If theism affirms the existence of a being which can create existence by an act of will, alter the nature of objects which are distinct from itself by an act of will, and/or cause such objects to act by an act of will, then theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
P2-2: Theism affirms the existence of a being which can create existence by an act of will, alter the nature of objects which are distinct from itself by an act of will, and/or cause such to act in any way by an act of will.
C2: Therefore, theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
Step 3: Theism cannot be true:
P3-1: If theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, then theism is incompatible with the primacy of existence metaphysics and consequently cannot be true. (From Step 1 above)
P3-2: Theism assumes the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. (From Step 2 above)
C3: Therefore theism is incompatible with the primacy of existence metaphysics and consequently cannot be true." Bahnsen burner.
Just mentioning, I don't agree with him.

Reformed Apologist said...

Surely this is not persuasive: God need not exist if truth is not mental but rather purely metaphysical; truth is not mental...; God does not exist.

By definition truth must be mental. Secondly, what is untrue metaphysics?

Anonymous said...

Today I have ten fingers tomorrow I could have nine. It seems the truth can change.

Reformed Apologist said...

Truth is not so imprecise as to ignore time signature.

Anonymous said...

What's a time signature?

Reformed Apologist said...

The truth wouldn't change. On Monday you have ten. And although on Tuesday you have nine, it's still true on Tuesday that on Monday you have ten. The true proposition pertains to time, hence your error.

Anonymous said...

Two things, 1: Do we have any reason to think the past exists anywhere other than our own minds? If not, then a mere case of memory loss could change it. 2. Whatever the case, there is no reason that "truth" must be held in a mind outside the universe.

Reformed Apologist said...

Two things, 1: Do we have any reason to think the past exists anywhere other than our own minds? If not, then a mere case of memory loss could change it.

The *past* doesn't "exist" anywhere, not even in the mind. Therefore, memory loss cannot change the past anymore than an false imagination of a false past can fabricate a true past.

2. Whatever the case, there is no reason that "truth" must be held in a mind outside the universe.

Define a truth without a proposition. Since you can't, tell me where propositions exist if not in a mind.

Reformed Apologist said...

Clear to whom? In any case, clarity and vagueness of truth presupposes truth.

Thomas said...

Ron,

As you understand, this person has equated the past with a memory of the past. Even allowing for that the past would have to be expunged from all minds including the Divine mind. Not likely to occur in our lifetime. Just another skeptic trying to get out from under truth.

Anonymous said...

How would you define truth?

Reformed Apologist said...

God's thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Zechariah 14: 1-2
"
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.

2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city."

If gods plan is for women to be raped by a foreign army and he employs this army for this purpose, then that is not only condoning it but premeditated mass rape.

Reformed Apologist said...

Does God know the future? If so, is it because He planned it or did someone else plan it? Or, is there no plan (and purpose)?

Anonymous said...

I don't know, you tell me. I usually hear that god has a plan and everyone plays a specific role, victims and perpetrators alike. Everyone was created by god specifically so as to fit in his plan, that's what I'm being told all the time. So, whatever goes according to gods plan he intended, premeditated and set up to go that way

Reformed Apologist said...

Well, if you don't know, then it seems you're arguing with yourself.

justwondering said...

So, are You saying that God does will the rape of these people and that a good purpose will come out of it? But isn't that self contradictory with the fact that he doesn't tempt us James 1:13.


Now, this is a different question. But I can see how logic and ethics presuppose God's existence. But can you elaborate on how causality presupposes God's existence? I've seen and heard it said but never grasps it.

Reformed Apologist said...

Nobody sees a causal connection. We see (hear, taste, smell or feel) discrete sensations but causality is something the mind imposes. Is our perception of causal inferences rational if a common creator of our minds and the world isn't providing the fruitful connection between the two?

Anonymous said...

Well, regardless of God's other characteristics, 'good' has no meaning outside of 'god's nature'. 'Good' is merely a word, and an english word at that. In other countries with other languages, christians will use a different word.
So answer me this. What's the difference between the 2 statements...

"God's nature is good"
"God's nature is God's nature"

If you can, i'm interested to hear it. If you can't, then it's just a tautology. So if i replace it with another word, which also means 'God's nature', like the word 'Blibberflax', a word that i just made up, which also means 'God's nature', then what has changed? Nothing.

If you prefer, i'll rephrase the question to account for the other attributes of God's nature....

"One of the many parts of God's nature is.... goodness"
"One of the parts of God's nature is....one of the many parts of God's nature" 

If 'goodness' merely describes one of the many parts of God's nature, and nothing more, then in your worldview, what is the difference between the these 2 statements?

Reformed Apologist said...

So answer me this. What's the difference between the 2 statements...

"God's nature is good"
"God's nature is God's nature"


The second is meaningless. It could allow for God's nature to be not good, which the first proposition denies. Therefore, the two statements do not carry the same meaning since nature does not imply goodness anymore than it implies evil.


Anonymous said...

Why does God exist?
I don't know if you define good this way but I know many Christians do - "good is whatever comports with God's nature".  If that's the case if your god had a dishonest and murderous nature then by definition dishonesty and murder would be good.

Reformed Apologist said...

God is perfect and, therefore, cannot have a dishonest nature. If one is dishonest, then he cannot be God. Your false premise that God could be dishonest leads you to contradiction.

TheSire said...

I'm guessing an empiricist would argue that we do see them. Such as we observe a pool ball hitting another one. Maybe I've missed the point.

Reformed Apologist said...

Well, Hume's skepticism would say that causality is a matter of inference, not observation. But rational inference is not a product of observation, strictly speaking. Kant responded with categories of thought that superimposes ideas upon observation. Yet all Kant did was psychologize science rather than salvage it. Causality was reduced to whatever the idiosyncratic mind made it out to be, but why should the mind give a true account of the external world? How is this not arbitrariness and how does of avoid skepticism?

Anonymous said...

Does his nature define perfection?

Ethics question. Do you hold Jesus has fulfilled the law or do you hold that the law is still in effect ?Matthew 5:16-19

Reformed Apologist said...

Depends.

1. Does God's nature define a perfect piece of music or do his thoughts define such things? The point is, God defines. You're a created thing you know.

2. Fulfilled means many things. It doesn't always imply abrogation. The ceremonial law was abolished but not the moral law, from which the general equity of the civil law stems.

Is this going anywhere?

Anonymous said...

1. Makes sense. Creature-Creator distinction.

2."Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
18"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
19"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
When I read this i see that the law is entirely and always in effect. So, it seems to be contradictory to Ephesians and over places mainly where Paul says we are not under the law of Moses but under the law of grace or Christ.

Reformed Apologist said...

Paul is referring to an economy, law being the OT system of appropriating Christ. Grace being the simplicity of the NT. Please mind that salvation was always of grace and there are always laws to keep.

Anonymous said...

I think on the basis of Matthew 5 Christians should follow the entire law because Jesus in these verses seem to espouse the thought. In verses 18 he speak that the law of Moses shall continue on and that (verse 19) those who do not follow the law and teach others the same will " be called least in the kingdom of heaven ". Looking at the context Jesus is talking about the whole law not just the moral law.

Reformed Apologist said...

Well, you then have an irreconcilable difference with Galatians and Hebrews, one that can be reconciled. If you're looking for a contradiction within Scripture you haven't found it. Bye

Anonymous said...

My question is does TAG give us epistemic certainty?
1. Someone said to me that "Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem" shows that we can't have certainty.
2. Dr. James Anderson has an article that denies it does. So, what is your opinion?
http://www.proginosko.com/2011/04/tag-and-epistemic-certainty/

Reformed Apologist said...

You've misunderstood Anderson I think.

As I've argued on this site, we don't know God through cleverly devised proofs. We know him by nature and through special revelation, by the Spirit. Though TAG is sound, only God gives knowledge of himself. Proof is not universally sufficient to cause knowledge of anything.

Anonymous said...

"And that does not purport to be a probable argument for God’s existence but a certain argument, a necessary argument, an inescapable argument."
Can you explain this Bahnsen quote to me then?

Reformed Apologist said...

My guess is he was using colloquial terminology since arguments are valid or invalid, for instance, whereas people are certain...

Anonymous said...

So, you don't think TAG is a logically "inescapable argument"?

Reformed Apologist said...

No, I never said that. You're just not understanding. I'll take your phone call.

just wondering said...

Now, Van Til thought that since Christians have the trinity . That they can account for unity and diversity. Which he's right. But i still don't see why Unitarians couldn't have a God that created a world with unity and diversity.

Reformed Apologist said...

A better question is whether unity and diversity in the thinking of God is a necessary condition of God being one and three.

just wondering said...

It's a better question, thats what makes you the philosopher and me the question asker.

just wondering said...

Do you hold that the persons of trinity has a sort of distinction because of persons or is consciousness a product of being?

Reformed Apologist said...

I don't understand

just wondering said...

Do the members(persons) of the trinity have their own distinctive consciousness or do they have the same? Plus, I'm still lost on the first question.

Reformed Apologist said...

The reason it's a better question to ask whether unity and diversity in the thinking of God is a necessary condition of God being one and three, is because your question was based upon a god who doesn't exist, the god of Unitarianism.

just wondering said...

I wasn't trying to say that it was possible or that a Unitarian God existed but rather I was wondering whether(in a hypothetical sense) a Unitarian could account for the "one and many"?

Reformed Apologist said...

Given that the hypothetical is impossible is why I suggested an alternative framing of the question. It still gets to the essence of your query I thought.

Reformed Apologist said...

I have never been persuaded that the necessity of one and many is attributable to the equal ultimacy of one and three in the Godhead, anymore than it's attributable to God's holiness. Rather, it seems necessary because God is rational. I think CVT made way too much of that and I think those who've followed have been long on rhetoric but short on substance.

just wondering said...

So, why is it necessary that God must be a Trinity? I promise this is my last question and thank you for your time.:)

Reformed Apologist said...

Because God cannot be other than God - who is triune.

Anonymous said...

You go on to say that truth exists only in minds. I respectfully disagree.

Truth is that which is factual. A fact is something which is demonstrable and objectively verifiable. One may assert that God is the source of truth, but how can one actually show that to be true?

Reformed Apologist said...

"Truth is that which is factual."

That's a proposition. Where do propositions exist? What is meaning? Where do your answers that are supposed to be true exist?

To argue for or against God presupposes Him.

Anonymous said...

Nope, truth is that which corresponds with the facts. A fact is that which is demonstrable and objectively verifiable.

Thomas said...

Reformed Apologist,

This person hasn't given these matters much thought. He speaks of facts and verification of facts without a philosophy of fact. He has not begun to provide the preconditions for knowledge or reality. These smug would-be atheists are being propped by God while they shake their angry fists at Him. Shake the dust off..they aren't looking to be helped. They're looking to sin more.

Reformed Apologist said...

The entire thread, every bit of if, bears this out. It's like a bad case of modalism. One single, arbitrary and inconsistent skeptic manifesting himself under different modes of existence. It would be laughable if eternal torment wasn't the prize.

Reformed Apologist said...

Consciousness being a function of mind is indexed to essence, not persons, hence the Son has two. Now then, all persons being of one essence have one will and mind, thereby conscious of the same things at the same time, always and exhaustively. Perichoresis underscores this. Also, attributes are not just adjectives but nouns when pertaining to God who is ultimate. Therefore, God *is* holy, omniscient, omnipotent, etc. and not merely like holiness. Attributes aren't abstractions but who God is. What God is like is who God is. His attributes are personal. Now then, before putting this all together, one more thing - there is a taxis. of *persons* in the Trinity that does not undermine the coequality of persons. This is not an ordering of divinity, power or glory. There is no subordination in the Godhead. No, but we do uphold the eternal generation of the Son and spiration of the Spirit. Divinity is not communicated but rather the Son is begotten, the Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son...

So, given what has been established - given the theological building blocks of eternal generation and divine simplicity, we may with those distinctions conclude distinct personhood *expressions* of the one divine mind and center of consciousness. For instance, the one divine mind knows it is *fitting* that "the Son become man," yet only one of the three persons is conscious that "I" am the eternal Son... It is in this regard that the one consciousness comes to expression in distinct persons, as the one divine will is carried out by the Son willing to become incarnate and the Father's unwillingness for himself to become incarnate.

In sum, we must do justice to the distinct persons (who are all God) in our upholding of the one self-conscious God. So, although the one consciousness of the divine mind (the one consciousness of God) comes to expression in roles of distinct persons who all share the divine essence in all fullness, all three persons were eternally conscious of the same truth, that "the Son will become man." The three persons will the incarnation of the Son. So, there is one and only one divine mind and will (and not three independent and separate wills!); yet there are expressions that pertain to distinct persons. To give up on that is to collapse persons, bordering a form of modalism.

{Note too, the one divine mind is not an abstraction or some fourth person, but rather is the mind of God - the mind of all three divine persons who mutually indwell each other.}

Lane Tipton once argued in the WTJ that CVT, allegedly building on Charles Hodge, was correct in his one person, three person model of the Trinity. Lane wanted to maintain three centers of self-awareness while also upholding that one center implies one person. His foundation being the mutual indwelling and penetration of the three distinct persons. Too much to discuss here other than to say, mystery, equal-ultimacy and perichoresis doesn't lead me to think in terms of one person. One God in three persons, yes, but not one person (in three persons). I do believe Lane uses one person language in a qualified sense but to say the least, I think it's more troublesome than useful.

Reformed Apologist said...

I don't mean LT asserted necessarily without proof but rather I mean that he alleged a link to Hodge in a soft sense, that of asserting.

LT's insights that are a superb for reflection and discussion can be found here.

http://faculty.wts.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2002-Fall-FunctionPerichoresis.pdf

Anonymous said...

Can you elaborate on this: "So, given what has been established - given the theological building blocks of eternal generation and divine simplicity, we may with those distinctions conclude distinct personhood *expressions* of the one divine mind and center of consciousness."

Reformed Apologist said...

If (1) the roles of the divine persons are distinct and so ordered as to exist and function harmoniously in unity of purpose, and if (2) divine attributes are who God is, then (3) divine attributes are so ordered - ie. expressed in divine persons according to the purpose and will of God.

Equality is maintained and persons upheld. If roles of divine persons are ordered, then divine attributes that are predicated to all persons can be expressed according to that order. The Father expressed wrath at the cross, yet the Trinity has wrath. The Son knows that He was our sin bearer, yet the Trinity always was conscious that the Son would be the redeemer. The attributes which all possess equally are functionally distinct.

Anonymous said...

What about John Frames Argument that the precondition for the obligation we all feel to be moral must be both absolute and personal since morals are absolute and obligation to be moral only makes sense in interpersonal relationships.(Apologetics to the Glory of God, pp. 97-102)?

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