Category Archives: Apologetics

Mathematical voting: Was the decision to not vote a vote for Obama?

The position of those on Reformed Inquisitor has been what we call “principled voting”. This is the view that we are to vote according to the admonitions of passages of Scripture like Exodus 18:21:

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens, etc.

The really really evil guy

Our conclusion has also been that if there are no candidates who fulfill these qualifications, that to abstain from voting is more than advisable.

However, there has been some backlash against principled voters due the failure of the Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to gain the electoral college and thus fail to become our new President for 2012. Seeing as there were approximately 3 million voters who did not show up to vote on Election Day in the Republican Party, my guess is that those who are perturbed at Romney’s failure need someone else to blame and so, alas! principled voters (among others) get the fallout.

 

The General Argument Against Principled Voting:

 

1. Your non-vote obviously doesn’t put forward any outcome of success since no perfect people exist (straw-man)

2. By not voting, you rob the less bad guy  (Mitt Romney) of your vote (false assumption)

3. Therefore, your non-vote was a vote for the evil guy (Barack Obama) and therefore evil (invalid inference)

If you simply replaced the information the abstaining from voting with information about voting for a third party, you can see that the argument is both against non-voters and third party voters.

The guy just right of the really really evil guy – at least in picture placement

There are at least three fronts that can combat this sort of argument,

Law of Identity:

First, a non-vote is a non-vote. Those who say a non-vote is a vote for someone else fail to recognize a fundamental law of logic, namely, the Law of Identity. The Law of Identity, simply put, says, “A is A”. Thus, a non-vote is a non-vote (which ought to be self-evident). To say a non-vote is a vote for Obama is to confuse matters. Does my name register on the ballot as a recorded vote for Obama? Clearly not.

False Assumption:

Second, there is an assumption that those who vote for the third party guy (or who do not vote) are potential voters for the less evil guy (Mitt Romney). Of course, this assumption is unwarranted. My personal voting record does not indicate that I am a voter who would support someone with the ideologies and record of a man like Mitt Romney. Thus, I should not be viewed as a potential voter for the lesser of two evils. Further, one could argue that a vote for Obama is the pragmatically better choice. After all, if the religious life, and not just the economic life, of America is put in balance, is not the popularization of of the cult Mormonism a destructive thing? Why should economics take precedence? Also, have Republicans been known to stop the tide of big government or do they not rather perpetuate it? Therefore, the assumption that those who vote third party or not at all are “stealing votes” away from Romney is based on a false premise.

Argumentum Ad Hominem (Devil’s Advocate)

Third, suppose we grant, for the sake of argument, their conclusion. We voted for Obama by not voting at all or by voting third party. So what? If one is not going to adopt a principled approach, on what basis is evil inferred on our part? That Barack Obama is evil? Well, so is Mitt Romney. That Obama will cause more damage? How do we quantify the potential destruction both candidates might bring without being able to know the future? And on what principle do we say that we ought to vote for the guy that is less evil? There is none. These are the questions that the voter of Mitt Romney need to answer, but is actually ill equipped to do so. The reason – which is also the motivation of his criticism of the non-voter and third party voter- is that he has rejected a principled approach. While he rejects the principled approach, he needs it to justify his condemnation of the non-voters and third party voters. Instead, what the Romney voter does is appeal to vague and general terms like “moral choice”. We ought to vote for Romney because it’s the “right thing to do”. Of course, all this is begging the question.

Now, this is not to say that non-votes and third party votes are always the good moral choices. Some third party candidates (Gary Johnson at least and maybe even Virgil Goode of the Constitution party) are aptly put in the category of “evil men” and a vote for them is no better than a vote for the other evil men. Furthermore, non-voting is not always virtuous. If there was, hypothetically, a piece of legislation put forward that would outlaw abortion, it would be immoral not to vote. In this case, silence is sin since we are obligated to support righteousness. But these things are actually all apparent from the premises of our view: we are not advocating third party votes or non-votes per se, but a principled approach which may entail a non-vote or third party vote in many circumstances. But “not voting” or voting third party is not good ipso facto (in and of itself), but rather the following of the admonition of Scripture that is good.

More Objections: Let’s look at the Math!

There are a few objections raised to the principled approach other than the above argument. There have been some attempts to do the business of quantifying the evil of one candidate versus the other. The idea is that we ought to vote for the person that we can mathematically quantify, based on statistics, the evil one candidate might do and pit it against the other really evil guy and what he might do, again, all based on the records of these men and statistics. If, for example, both candidates are pro-abortion, this view would suggest that we ought to vote for the guy where fewer pre-born babies will die even though the candidate is actually perpetuating abortion. Suppose that under Obama 10 million babies are killed and 8 million babies will be killed under Romney. The difference is 2 million babies that you will “save” by your vote for Romney. Some might say, “It’s just math!”

The objection against the principled voter, ironically, is that we are responsible for the death of the 2 million babies because in our “purest theology” (something our ideas keep getting labeled) we voted for the guy that “didn’t have a chance”, or perhaps didn’t vote at all and thus “allowed” 2 million pre-born babies to be murdered.

Let me suggest that this objection and conclusion is based two detrimental ideologies, namely, pragmatism and relativism.

What is Responsibility?

First, there is the notion of blame. Who is to be blamed for the death of 2 million babies? Or, since I am highly questioning the assumptions behind the allegation, we might ask, “Who is responsible for the death of 10 million babies?” What I am asking is for the person who is alleging that we are to blame to give an account for his theological concept of responsibility. Let me give a brief definition of what responsibility is. Responsibility is you being held to account by a higher power. Thus, responsibility implies a law and a Sovereign to hold you to account to that law. One is blame worthy, then, when one has violated a principle of the law. It is incumbent upon those who rail against the non-voter to show how they can be held accountable for the death of 2 million babies, when, in the first place, the motivation of not voting was rooted in the fact that both candidates are pro-abortion!

Math and Situation Ethics:

Let’s look back in history and place ourselves in a concentration camp in Germany under Hitler. You are standing in front of ten Jews who are being lined up for execution. You are standing next to a German officer who is giving you a gun. He tells you that unless you shoot one of them, he will shoot all of them. What do you do? The principled approach would say that you don’t shoot any of them since responsibility and morality are based on God’s absolutes. If you shoot that person, you are a murderer and will be held accountable before God for your action. So also, in our view, if the German officer shoots all of them, he is the murderer, not you. (without getting into too much detail that if you were in such a scenario, you would be obligated to defend said people with your own life since this is the positive implication of the sixth commandment, namely, defense of a third person). But what must the mathematical ethicist say?  Well, surely if you shoot one and nine are spared, you should shoot the one! Actually, even if the math was that if you shot nine and only one would be spared, you should do it. Thus we have relativism and its offspring of situation ethics. Suffice it to say, the theory is antithetical to Christian morality. So let’s return to the “math” of the above objection. The person raising the allegation can only do so on the premises of pragmatism and relativism. Since both are theologically bankrupt and neither of them can supply a rule of morality that can withstand rigorous analysis nor even an imperative, we are better suited to follow the Wisdom of the Law-giver.

One minor note: we can only quantify what we know of the two candidates. Seeing as Romney was never president there is the difficulty of needing to quantify potential deaths. This is virtually impossible. All we know is that Romney was a status quo guy. He was and is pro-abortion.

Some Reasons To Vote Third Party (or not voting at all):

There are some tactical reasons for voting third party besides the moral reasons cited above. This is clearly seen in the 3 million who didn’t vote in this 2012 election and even the one percent that voted Libertarian. What does it tell to the establishment? What kind of message does it tell those who might run in the future? Often we think that compromise always means a compromise towards liberalism. Well, in the case of the 3 million who didn’t vote, the Republicans are going to need to start compromising towards the conservatives. The lack of turnout is a message to the establishment that says, “Hey! You can’t do this without us!” It means that those who run in the future are going to need to show some credentials of conservatism before they are going to be able to take those voters back. If no one ever voted third party and always voted for the moderate candidate that the Republican party puts forward, the message you send is that you are willing to eat whatever they feed you. However, once they are shown that there is a large body of people that they haven’t won over because the absentees are sick of the nonsense, there may very well be candidates who have conservative values who will run because they know they have a fighting chance.

So next time you’re confronted with the pottage of liberalism with the Republican front, vote third party or not at all! There are both moral and political reasons to do so.

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An Infallible Defense for the Resurrection of Christ

The resurrection of Christ is a most pivotal part of the Christian religion. On the doctrine of the resurrection our entire faith stands or falls. If Christ is not raised from the dead we have faith only in a dead Messiah and failed prophecies. Faith in failure is the quintessential expression  of vanity.

The Apostle Paul makes this inference in his first letter to the Corinthians, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)

A defense of the resurrection is critical to the faith. For our faith to be sure we must have a sure argument for the resurrection. To the degree our evidence is weak, so is our faith.

Faith is not a blind hope in the improbable (e.g., I have faith the Red Sox will win the World Series this year). Faith is trusting assent to a proposition. If the proposition is found to be false you have no reason to have faith. You may have faith in your bank that they will keep your money safe (a foolish faith, but now is not the time to ramble about fractional reserve banking). You have faith in the proposition, “The money I have earned is safer in the bank than in my possession.”  But if the bank is robbed, your faith in that proposition is weak at best. This is to demonstrate you have reasons for your faith. If those reasons are fallacious or unreliable, so is your faith.

What we need then for a defense of the resurrection is an infallible defense. Therefore, when we argue for the resurrection we should not be content to spout off arguments to no profit. Far too often have we heard the arguments from silence (e.g., no body was produced) and appeals to empirical eyewitness accounts in an attempt to defend the resurrection. How definite are these arguments? Are they worth putting your faith in? Remember, faith does not bridge the gap where empirical evidence is insufficient. If your faith is based on empirical eyewitness accounts, your faith is only as strong as the human senses are reliable.

Are the senses infallible? There are optical illusions, mirages, hallucinations, waking dreams, varying sensation of color, taste, and touch. How many accidents have been the result of someone’s false perception of the situation? At best what can be said of the human sensory organs is that they are “generally” reliable. Which is only to say they are “probably” reliable. Which is only to say Jesus Christ was probably raised from the dead, so our faith is probably not in vain, and we are probably not false witnesses of God, and we are probably not still in our sins. When we preach, the most convicting thing we can say is, “You should probably repent and believe in Christ.”

This type of uncertainty is not necessary. It may be objected that Paul appeals to empirical eye witness accounts earlier in 1 Corinthians 15 where he says:

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (3-8)

At first glance it may appear as though Paul is saying that the eye witness accounts are the reason for believing the resurrection. But let’s look closely at the text. Paul is delivering to the Corinthians that which was delivered to him — the Gospel message. Within this Gospel message are the eye witness accounts. Paul says, “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” The Gospel is not confirmed by eyewitness accounts, but the eye witness accounts are part of the Gospel message, the message Paul received, and also preached. Paul does not place his confidence in the sense organs of the disciples.

It may even be argued that Paul is not speaking of a literal seeing, as in images of color perceived through the retina. Paul adds his vision of Christ to the list of those that saw Christ, but Paul never actually saw Him with the physical eye. The accounts of Paul’s encounter with Christ in Acts 9 and 22 tell us that Paul never saw Christ’s resurrected body. Paul expressed this when he said, “I could not see for the glory of that light.” When Paul says that Christ was “seen of him” in 1 Corinthians, he is not speaking of an eye witness account of Christ. Because Paul says, “he was seen of me also” all of the “seeing” must be figurative, as the word “also“ identifies the “seeing” as the same.  If it was a figurative seeing for Paul (and it seems from the two Acts accounts that it is) it must also be for all the other witnesses. “Seeing” seems to be referring to conversion, not to eyewitness testimony.

This becomes more evident in examining the two appearances of Christ in Luke 24; the appearing of Christ to Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus (13-32) and the appearing of Christ to the Eleven and those that were with them in Jerusalem (33-49).

The road to Emmaus

When Christ approached the two on their way to Emmaus the Scripture says, “their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” No doubt, they physically saw the resurrected Christ who was speaking to them but they did not see Him for who He was. At His inquiry they told Christ of all the events that took place. It is obvious from their words they did not believe as of  yet the resurrection. They did not believe because of an empty tomb or even the testimony of the women who saw the vision of angels.

Christ rebukes them, not for disbelieving the women or doubting the implications of the empty tomb, but for disbelieving the prophets recorded in Scripture, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Then, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” It was after Christ expounded Scripture and after He blessed the bread that “their eyes were opened, and they knew him.”

The appearing of Christ to the disciples in Jerusalem is even more clear. Christ appears to them and they don’t recognize Him as the risen Christ; they think he must be a spirit. Like the two on the way to Emmaus their eyes did not behold Him for who He was. Christ shows them that He is not a spirit and allows them to touch him. Yet even after this they did not believe: “And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered….” They didn’t believe until He supped with them, “and he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.”

What is the infallible evidence for the resurrection? The same evidence Christ delivered unto the disciples, the same evidence that Paul received and preach –the Scripture. Because the Bible is the infallible Word of God, its testimony of the resurrection is an infallible testimony. “But that’s not convincing to most people,” one may object. To which I answer: It wasn’t convincing to those staring the resurrected  Christ in the face until he opened their eyes to see. Without God enabling a sinner to believe His Word he cannot believe even if Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity incarnate, put to death and resurrected the third day, was the one delivering the message.

But God by His grace does enable some to believe and what He enables them to believe is not a probability, but the sure Word of the Scriptures. May the same Scripture that Christ opened and explained to those He walked with be our source for every argument and our foundation for faith.

-Ben Murch


Rampant Fundamentalism; How I know You’re A Fundamentalist

Not all fundamentalists look like this

Definition: strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles:

Often a major objection to Christianity by secular humanists is that it is too dogmatic.  Another observation (usually stated with a bit of annoyance) is that we believe we have an infallible starting point which is finally authoritative, namely, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. When the Bible is cited as the authority or foundation for some belief it is usually met with an intense wagging of the head with the words “Fundamentalist!” said between clenched teeth in a less-than-loving tone (This is particularly ironic since the accusation of being unloving frequently follows). Usually some invective is thrown in the mix, which I will not quote for the sake of decency. Suffice it to say they do not appear to be happy individuals in the discussion.

What I find ironic is the hypocrisy. The secular humanists are fundamentalists! They have a doctrine of infallibility just like the Christian to which they appeal dogmatically. A retort might be that humanists generally view things as relative and that therefore my assertion is ill founded. However, in order to make any judgment on truth-value, one must have an objective framework to operate from.  If according to humanism, morality and value are social conventions and are relative, no charge of absurdity or falsity can be attributed to the Bible, nor to anything for that matter, because their is no standard in which to contrast truth from error — rational from absurd. Seeing as humanists do make such truth claims, they have a doctrine of infallibility which they dogmatically appeal to.

So what is it?

  1. Infallibility is an inescapable concept

If the humanist objects to dogmatic appeal of the Christian to the infallible nature of the Bible, it must be based on a prior acceptance of a rival doctrine of infallibility. Let’s produce the opposing views of infallibility to prove the point:

  • Democracy

    "vox popula vox dei" is just a cool way of saying the mob rules

The alleged infallible starting point for many folks is the voice of the majority and is captured in the words of Pythagoras, “Vox Popula, Vox Dei” or “The voice of the people is the voice of God”. In this view the majority can infallibly dictate things like societal policy, ethics, economics, law and morality. This could very well be called the most popular view today.

  • Deism

This starting point is not usually stated to be infallible, but implicitly it has a doctrine of infallibility. It is seen in the fact that is believes that the mind of man can find infallibly fixed laws that govern the universe, colloquially called “natures laws” conceived as both moral and physical. A short summation of this view would be: What is is infallibly right.

  • Philosopher-Kings

This view has a few variations like the divine right of kings, Marxism or even the Roman catholic church. Philosopher-kings is an ancient concept that thought that only the philosophers were fit to rule because they were the only ones who could rule competently and infallibly since all others were too ignorant and therefore fallible. For men like Plato, who advocated the view, sin and error was always the result of ignorance.

There are more views, but this will suffice. The basic premise is, in the words of theologian Rousas J. Rushdoony, “if the infallibility of Scripture is denied, it is denied only in order to ascribe infallibility to nature, to man, or to some other aspect of institution of man.”

2. What are the necessary preconditions for infallibility?

  • Total self-consciousness

In order for someone or some institution to be infallible, they must have no hidden potentialities within themselves.  But man does not have this. He is not totally  self-conscious for their are hidden recesses in his mind and hidden potentialities that he may never be aware of.

  • Total knowledge of oneself and abilities

In order to speak infallibly, one must know oneself and abilities in total. Without knowledge, there can be no infallible authority. And without full knowledge, how could one know whether they have the truth? What if they are missing key aspects that would change their perspective? This happens all the time with science and is evidenced by its history. We never know if we have arrived at truth on our own.

  • Total control

In order to have an infallible word, one must not only know something, but be able to bring it to pass. Man cannot say that he has obtained this since, lacking both full knowledge and self-consciousness, man changes in his mind. He cannot make absolute judgments on anything and thus does cannot bring things infallibly to pass. In short, anything rooted in man cannot be said to be infallible. As Rushdoony wrote, “God, being omnipotent and totally self-conscious, can predict because His word is the controlling word. God’s word comes out of His unchanging and omnipotent being, and the word of God is thus of necessity infallible. The only word the sovereign and triune God can speak is an infallible word.” (Emphasis original)

So what do we have? We have Christian fundamentalism vs. humanistic fundamentalism with the key difference that the humanist must confess his starting point is woefully fallible since he does not have the preconditions for infallibility, whereas the Christian’s is rooted in the infallible God of Scripture. Also, we have shown the humanist is not justified in accusing the Christian of dogmatism as he is “guilty” of the same.

If the secular humanist wishes to hold any ideal, he can only do so by a doctrine of infallibility. If he wishes to maintain a relativistic starting point, he cannot make any judgments of falsity of absurdity to any belief. He cannot claim infallibility because he doesn’t have the preconditions of infallibility. So, why be dogmatic against Christianity? Why call the laws of God cruel and malicious? Why be angry with fundamentalists in the first place?

There is a war taking place, and a rather unfair one at that. It is between the Almighty God of Scripture and the wavering fickle and uncertain word of man. The more man tries to sustain his existence outside God’s laws, God’s purpose and God creating man in his image, the more destructive, irrational and  animal-like he makes himself out to be. His origin will be chaotic, and his end disastrous nonsense.

-Jesse Murch


No Matter What You Think, You’re a Presuppositionalist

Atheists are as presuppositional in their thought as the Christian, no matter how smug their look.

Presuppositions: There are certain classes of people who think they don’t have them. Interestingly, it is usually these people who also think they’re the most in touch with reason and philosophically astute. Take an atheist for example (Why? Because they‘re the easiest to make examples of).  Atheists consider themselves to be the most objective people on nobody’s green earth. If you’re of any other opinion than theirs it’s because you’re an irrational idiot . A Christian will deliver an argument from Scripture and the atheist will quickly retort, “You’re begging the question!” Many Christian apologists are intimidated by this. Some may even share the atheist’s sentiments, “you can’t just quote from the Bible when the person you’re trying to convince doesn’t believe it”.

It is supposed that to debate with someone you must have “common ground” on which to debate. The atheist doesn’t believe in God, so he also doesn’t believe in the Bible. To convince the atheist, you must argue from where he will agree with you, like the general reliability of the senses, or some commonly accepted cosmological “truth” like the law of thermo-dynamics.  From there you need to prove there is a God and that this God revealed Himself through an inscripturated Word (an impossible fete, I will explain why later). Only this would comply with the atheist’s mandate for “rationality“.

Here is a bit of philosophical profundity that many people don’t seem to think of: In order for an argument to begin it must have a starting point, because without it no argument could begin. The atheist is sure to counter, “What! You flipping moron; are you saying I’m just arguing from my own prior notions?”

Yes.

If your argument doesn’t have a starting point it didn’t start and is therefore not an argument. If your argument has started it started from a presupposition. So then, quite literally, no matter what you think, you’re a presuppositionalist, because you can only think in terms of your presuppositions. That is the function of logic.

Logic is defined as the study necessary inference. Logic therefore, must have some subject to infer from. Logic requires presuppositions. If you don’t have presuppositions, you’re not thinking logically. I will use the textbook example to explain: All men are mortal, Socrates is man, therefore, Socrates is a mortal. Could one reply against this idea as well with an exclamation of  “you’re begging the question”? Of course. Someone may not believe Socrates is a man. Begging the question is a fallacy in which the proposition being concluded is already present (even if only implicitly) in one or more of the premises. Logic however, requires the subject of the conclusion to be present in one or more premises. Quite obviously, Socrates is a man, all men are mortal, therefore, the polar icecaps are melting is not logical. Why? Because the polar icecaps were not mentioned in the premises.

I say all of this to make two points:

First, while the fallacy of begging the question has a legitimate function, it is not to point out the obvious and necessary fact that someone’s argument started with the idea he is deducing from. If those who use the fallacy in this manner (atheist and Christian alike) would apply it to their own thinking, they would understand how they’ve misuse it.

Secondly, because presuppositions are necessary, it is imperative that the Christian have the proper presuppositions. Why is it impossible to argue from cosmology prove the Triune God of Scripture? Because you are arguing from empirical presuppositions to arrive at a non-empirical, non-corporeal entity — God. This isn’t just applicable to the Christian. Ask an atheist to justify the non-empirical laws of logic (or any other abstract concept) he claims to believe in and comedy hour ensues.

The Christian starting point for all his arguments must be from Scripture, because the Christian faith is deduced from Scripture. Let the atheists have their presuppositions. Let them attempt to develop a viable world and life view from them. It will be a failure as it has always been a failure. Likewise, any Christian argument attempting to start from atheistic presupposition will be a failure. We must begin with the Bible for only the Bible equips us for every good work.

-Ben Murch


Where is Atheism’s Crutch?

In the mind of the atheist, the poor Christian is supported by his crutch of religion, while he is firmly planted on his legs of uncertainty and purposelessness

The atheists assert (often in the most arrogant fashion) that Christianity is a crutch to people who can’t cope with life. I think this is an interesting assertion. For the sake of argument, let us assume that the atheist is correct; Christianity is a crutch so that we poor deluded souls can try to make it through this painful and otherwise unfulfilling life.

We are now going to jump to a humanistic “crutchless” universe. In this universe, man is a product of chaos. In this universe man is an animal with a history of evolution from other animals going back billions of years until he reaches his beginning, viz. primordial soup (or some other imaginative biological beginning). His ethics come from what “is” or majority opinion. But what is his purpose? Let us hear the profound wisdom of Bertrand Russel:

“That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the gravel that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noon-day brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievements must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built…Brief and powerless is man’s life; on him and all his race the slow sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for man, condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his day proudly defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate for a moment his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary and unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power.”

Simply put, man does not have a purpose. Not only this, but man’s “sure foundation” is despair. The sure foundation of Christianity is Jesus Christ. Presumably, we choose our foundation to escape this “truth” of unyielding despair. But what is the crutch of atheistic humanism?

You may have been  thinking that atheism doesn’t have one. We are, after all, considering for the sake of argument that Christianity is a man-made concoction invented by fearful men to get away from despair and we thought the atheist did away with this “crutch”. But does he? Well, if you examined Rusell’s excellent paragraph you might have wondered – like me – about the reason for not committing suicide with such an outlook of life. After all, this life is painful. Why go through it? There is no purpose to life. All is hopeless despair. You’re an animal, and a miserable animal at that. Suicide may not only be a temptation, but more then that, it is the only logical course of action to take. There are no values, no purpose, and no reason for living. All professing atheists do not commit suicide so we must point out this inconsistency, and further, their crutch. We know they have a crutch because they don’t all commit suicide. Logical atheism would be extinct in one generation since all of its adherents would be advocates of suicide.

Discovered: The atheist's crutch

Let us just put things the way they are instead of viewing the world as an accident and mankind as animals. Atheists cannot speak of the “crutch of Christianity” with any authority without committing suicide first. Their accusations are vain. In reality, their words come from a deep rooted rebellion against the God of Scripture and a hatred for His laws and Sovereignty. Their accusations are kin to the words of the heathen who take counsel against the Lord and against Christ saying, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” But in so doing, they kill themselves and wrong their own souls and “He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision”.

Contrary to humanistic thought, man does have a purpose and that purpose is to glorify his Creator. Man, contrary to humanism, is not an animal; man is created in the image of God. All is not bleak for everyone. For those who believe in Christ alone for salvation there is purpose. But the unbelieving shall be justly damned. With Dr. Gordon Clark I affirm,

“If they reject such a godless view of the world, if they turn away from an empirical study of science and politics and seek the living God who has spoken a more sure word of prophesy, then they may know the purpose of life and of the universe, and they will be enabled to face the next war, the ensuing dark ages, and the evil nature of man at least with equanimity. Indeed, they will face it with more than equanimity, for they will know that history is not moving towards utter futility, but towards a glorious reign of righteousness when the kingdoms of this world are becoming the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.”

Let the atheists jeer at us for believing in the Almighty God of Scripture. May we not mock them in return because the logical conclusion of their philosophy results in suicide? That is a principle that is impossible to live by.

Proverbs 8:36: “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”

– Jesse Murch


The Christian View of Knowledge Part 5, Scripturalism

Empiricism, Rationalism, and a Kantian blend of the two have proven themselves to be failures in developing a sound foundation for true knowledge. Let us now examine the third epistemological viewpoint: Revelationalism or Scripturalism, commonly referred to as Presuppositionalism, or negatively as dogmatism, holds that nothing can be called truth or knowledge in any absolute sense unless it is derived from the revelation of God, specifically in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.

The Bible itself makes this claim as the source of knowledge:

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”  -2Tim 3:16,17

If all Scripture is profitable in this manner, we need no other source for our knowledge. If knowledge of Scripture makes the man of God completely furnished or equipped, He needs nothing else epistemologically speaking – Scripture is sufficient. This is the claim of Scripturalism. Whatever the Bible says, or whatever can be deduced from propositions in the Bible is true knowledge, epistemically sound knowledge, which can be found nowhere else.

This being the case, it would be beneficial to point out that what first may have appeared as three different worldviews or epistemic foundations, Empiricism, Rationalism, and Scripturalism, can now be narrowed down to two: man’s attempt at knowledge on his own terms apart from God and God’s truth being received by man, through the grace of God. I either form my own philosophy based on how I think the world ought to be perceived or I adopt another. I either adopt the wisdom of men or the wisdom of God. The problems of those who reject the wisdom of God in their philosophy are insurmountable. An attempt at knowledge beginning with finite man can never arrive at an absolute conclusion. Dr. Robert Reymond is to the point on this:

“It is an epistemological axiom that unless there is comprehensive knowledge of all things somewhere there can be no knowledge anywhere. This is because all knowledge data is inextricably interrelated. For the finite knower to begin with himself alone with any datum, whether that datum be subjective or objective, ideal or material, mental or nonmental, and to seek to understand it comprehensively and exhaustively must inevitably lead him to other data, but being finite he cannot examine any datum or all possible relationships of that one datum comprehensively or exhaustively, not to mention al the data in the universe. Furthermore, there is no way he can be assured that the next datum he might have examined at the point at which he concluded His research in his finiteness would have accorded with all that he had concluded to that point or would have required him to reevaluate his entire enterprise to that point. The only way to escape the force of this fact is to avoid the entire question of epistemology.” [1]

Sinful man's thinking on his own terms will never bring him to true knowledge

We have seen this to be the case in our examination of each view. Neither rationalism nor empiricism can account for universal norms. Rationalism presupposes the universal norms of logic, but cannot demonstrate validly any kind of ethic or law. Empiricism may claim to learn through an observation of nature and behavior of men and the world but can never deduce an “ought” from the things they report. Man may hold to an hodgepodge of philosophies from various thinkers in the past, but it is impotent in that it can never rise to a universal truth and is therefore useless as an epistemology. If the unbeliever does not have a sound epistemology, he cannot justify a knowledge of anything else. Epistemology is basic to all other knowledge.

Scripture, to be sure, claims to be the source of absolute knowledge and is exclusive in its claim. Proverbs 2:6 says it is God who gives wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 9:10 tells us knowing God brings understanding. Daniel 2:21 likewise claims wisdom is given from God and if a man understands, it is because God has given him knowledge. Christ rebuked the lawyers in Luke 11:52 because they took away the key to knowledge, the Scriptures, from the people. Colossians 2:3 informs us in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. If all wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ, be sure, it can be found in no other place. In fact when Scripture refers to man’s knowledge (or what he claims to be knowledge) it is always with a negative connotation. 1 Corinthians 2:7 says the wisdom of the world does not amount to anything. Paul, in Philippians 3:8, counted all his knowledge as dung compared to the knowledge of Christ. Jeremiah 2:13 says God is the fountain of living waters, and all else is as broken cisterns that hold no water.

With Scripture we have a functioning epistemology. We have answers to the questions so relevant to every day life and to society at large. Dr. John Robins summarized the Scriptural philosophy like this:

1) Epistemology: The Bible tells me so.
2) Soteriology: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
3) Metaphysics: In Him we live and move and have our being
4) Ethics: We ought to obey God rather than man.
5) Politics: Proclaim liberty throughout the land [2]

What society needs is sound exposition of the Word of God. In the midst of the turmoil and confusion present today the Bible has solid answers to the hardest questions. The Bible, however, is scoffed at; it is considered irrelevant, outdated, and even bigoted.

Though man’s attempts at fixing the problems fail time and time again, they return to their sources or reasoning as a dog to his own vomit. It is man attempting to advance his own kingdom on his own terms, rather than advancing God’s kingdom on His terms. As Christians we must reassert the authority of Scripture to a culture that has rejected it. We must demonstrate the problems of their actions and expose the corruptness of their roots of reason. Consider these words from Dr. Carl F H Henry:

“We need an expository ministry that brings forward into the civilizational crisis of the present the lessons of God’s external providence in history and the cosmos, nor fail to stress that naturalistic science, philosophy, and ethics rest on false assumptions about the real world. In the very cosmos that modern scientists investigate and in the very history that contemporary historians evaluate, the living God manifests himself and works out his sovereign purposes. While secular methodologies arbitrarily exclude him, God remains nonetheless the God of nature and history.”[3]

Man’s problem is naturally he will never accept the truth of Scripture over his own notions of truth (1 Cor 2:14). It is as though he were dead and unable to come to the knowledge of the truth (Eph 2:1). This poses a question: How do we convince the unbeliever of the truth of Scripture if he cannot naturally receive it? The answer is:

We don’t.

This may sound outrageous to some people. One may ask: How will anyone be convinced of the truth of Scripture if we don’t attempt to prove the veracity of the Scripture? If one does not believe the Bible is true, how could he ever believe the epistemological, soteriological, ethical, and political implications in the Bible? It would seem we first have to prove the Bible is true. Contrary to this notion, the Bible says man is endowed with a knowledge of God innately, that is, without learning it. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them.” (Rom 1:19) This is sufficient knowledge “so that they are without excuse” (1:20) when they are judged for not glorifying God and ethically conforming to His dictates.

Consider also this analogy: A man breaks into your home and threatens to bring harm to your family. You have a firearm and are able to use it. Do you take great effort in convincing the man your weapon is real and has the ability to hurt him, or do you pull the trigger and make him a believer? This analogy is appropriate because Scripture likens itself to a sword (Heb 4:12).  As a farmer would you attempt to convince the dirt of the ability of your implements to break up its hardness, or do you till the ground and make a garden?

God’s Word always accomplishes its purpose (Isa 55:11). Our duty is to simply proclaim it. In philosophy we expound theology. In ethics and politics we study the Law of God and examine its case studies. In apologetics we show the failure of the secular system of reasoning and expound Scripture in its purity. We become theologians so as to act in accord with God’s commands . Because the best husband is the man who loves God (Dut 11:13) and loves his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (Eph 5:25) and the best citizen is the man who honors all men, loves the people of God, honors his magistrate (1 Peter 2:17) and knows the Law of God (Hosea 4:6). The best magistrate is the one who upholds God’s Law with justice and equity (2Chor 34:ff). The best society is the one who fears God and obeys His commandments, for “blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” (Ps 33:12)

– Ben Murch

Endnotes:

[1] Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 111, 112
[2] Robbins, Forward to Introduction to Christian Philosophy by Gordon H Clark, 1
[3] Henry, The Christian Mindset in Secular Society, 36


The Christian View of Knowledge Part 4, A Brief Refutation of Kant

Could our source of knowledge be a combination of Rationalism and Empiricism (and even the Bible, as well)? Could it not be possible that we learn how to build a house from our senses, we know the law of contradiction a priori, and learn of the ontological Trinity from the Bible? This sounds plausible, it may even be what many claim to hold, yet, let us examine it. Can we take a smorgasbord view to epistemology?

Immanuel Kant attempted to combine Rationalism and Empiricism in his philosophy

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant claimed our knowledge was partly derived from sensation (what he called a posteriori ) and partly from reason (a priori). We determine a house is black with our a posteriori judgment (that is, our senses). But we cannot conclude all black houses are houses from sensation alone, making the a priori form (that is, logic) most necessary. But because Kant was no lover of religion, he also made a dichotomy between the noumenal realm and the phenomenal realm. The phenomenal realm contains the objects of our sense learning (with a priori interpretation); the noumenal realm is outside our ability to reason, according to Kant. Because God is a Being in the noumenal realm we cannot learn of Him and He cannot reveal Himself to us.

Here is the rub: How did Kant determine what were objects of the phenomenal and what were not? Perhaps a chair is an object of the noumenal and what we see is really an illusion. Perhaps God is indeed within the phenomenal realm though we cannot see Him. This may seem silly to some, but on what basis? Why should I arbitrarily assent to Kant’s categories (or any one’s for that matter) and not my own? Why could I not assert a chair should belong in the phenomenal realm and God in the noumenal or perhaps even create a third realm where Kant dwells, and consequently, cannot communicate to us. This is no less arbitrary that Kant’s formulation; only less accepted, yet it’s still equally plausible.

Kant rejected the Christian view of man as created in the image of God with the ability to think God’s thoughts after Him, to know the Mind of God, and thus to think rationally about the world around us. Because of this, Kant, as Dr. Robert Reymond points out, “can provide no valid reasons why such a pre-established harmony exists. For if as he contends, knowledge is exclusively a joint product of forms and perceptions, he cannot explain how it is possible to acquire valid information about the categories which for him are purely mental”[1]

The problem with Kant’s arguments and any argument wishing to combine empiricism and rationalism is that you cannot put anything within a category without first having an idea of categorization. I may say a chair belongs in the category of empiricism because I see it, but I’ve already presupposed empiricism by saying that. Similarly, I could say the laws of Logic are innate in every man, but do I not reason this way because I cannot see how they are observed, concluding because I cannot sense them they must be innate, again presupposing empiricism. Any category will be found to have this problem; we have our way of thinking and we form a philosophy around that, or adopt someone else’s and think according to it (as it suits us). It is as the Scripture says: “we have turned every one to his own way,” (Isa 53:6) and, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes.” (Prov 21:2)

– Ben Murch

Endnotes:

[1] Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 115