Archive for the ‘ Orqotomeo ’ Category

My comment: “God is not “driven by” wrath – wrath is an attribute of God’s nature.”

CMP: No, wrath is a response of another attribute, namely righteousness. But that is not really the point of this post.

Jugulum: I actually agree w/him on “wrath”. Wrath isn’t an attr. because God’s wouldn’t be wrathful if he hadn’t created. God was/is/will-be eternally holy/righteous, which includes the trait, “I will be wrathful toward sin”. You might call that a “attr. of wrath”, but I think that was the distinction CMP was making. Similarly, God wasn’t eternally merciful, apart from a sinful creation. Mercy & wrath are expressions of his eternal attributes.

Recall this post: Divine Simplicity and Malformed Arguments.

This is another good example of why we must keep ALL of God’s attributes in mind, when formulating our theology – even on the internet. What does this point of view entail? First, that God changed. That He is not immutable. In this view, God began to be wrathful (or merciful). In this view, God’s wrath is not eternal, toward sin, nor is His mercy towards sinners eternal. Did God enter the temporal realm at a certain point in time, and thereby become successive, changeable, and non-eternal? If not, this view does not, and cannot, hold water. Similarly to when we say, as Athanasius said contra the Arians, that “there was never a time when the Son was not” – we must say that there was a never a time God’s wrath was not. God is not temporal, folks. God is not changeable, and God “is not a man, that He should change His mind”.

Hear me – I understand the distinction being made by CMP and Jugulum. However – the consequences of this view are utterly unacceptable. What God does, He eternally purposed to do. God’s righteousness is eternal, yes – but His wrath, since He is Eternal, is necessarily eternal wrath. Jer 10:10 – “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.” Or take this – Deu 32:40-41 – “Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, And say, as I live forever, If I sharpen My flashing sword, And My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, And I will repay those who hate Me.”

As Charnock says, and as I used in my class for our 1st-6th graders recently – “Though God be least in their thoughts, and is made light of in the world, yet the thoughts of God’s eternity, when he comes to judge the world, shall make the slighters of him tremble. That the Judge and punisher lives forever, is the greatest grievance to a soul in misery, and adds an inconceivable weight to it, above what the infiniteness of God’s executive power could do without that duration. His eternity makes the punishment more dreadful than his power; his power makes it sharp, but his eternity renders it perpetual; ever to endure, is the sting at the end of every lash. And how sad is it to think that God lays his eternity as a security for the punishment of obstinate sinners… a reward proportioned to the greatness of their offences, and the glory of an eternal God!”

As to mercy, think on this – “And {He did so} to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,” – Rom 9:23. We’re all Calvinists here, right? Are not God’s decrees eternal? This is an eternal decree of mercy, folks. Not to mention Rom 9:22 – “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” Now, I’m aware of CMP’s comments in this vein – but I’m not convinced there is anything different in the “timing” of the preparation, there. God’s decrees are eternal. You do notice, I hope, that it undermines Jugulum’s idea that mercy is also a reaction to man’s actions. As Calvinists, we must be careful not to think that God’s eternal decrees are subject to the actions of men – or consequent to them. If God is Sovereign, He is utterly Sovereign.

I’m not really concerned with commenting on CMP’s main article – TurretinFan already did so, much more ably than I could have. I was concerned with the explanation offered by CMP, and then Jugulum for the wrath of God; and Jugulum’s further extrapolation to mercy. If God is eternal, than His attributes are necessarily eternal. To say otherwise brings about serious exegetical and apologetic issues.

The Unknown God?

“The design of every false scheme and system of religion is to depict the character of God in such a way that it is agreeable to the tastes of the carnal heart, acceptable to depraved human nature. And that can only be done by a species of misrepresentation: the ignoring of those of His prerogatives and perfections which are objectionable, and the disproportionate emphasizing of those of His attributes which appeal to their selfishness—such as His love, mercy, and long-sufferance. But let the character of God be faithfully presented as it is actually portrayed in the Scriptures—in the Old Testament as well as the New—and nine out of every ten of church-goers will frankly state that they find it impossible to love Him.” The plain fact is, dear reader, that to the present generation the Most High of Holy Writ is “the unknown God.”

—A. W. Pink (1886–1952)

That quote brings Paul’s Areopagus sermon to mind. “What you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.”

A.W. Pink on the Gospel

“Do you imagine that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to worldlings and telling them that they “may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their personal Savior” while they are wedded to their idols and their hearts are still in love with sin? If I do so, I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel, insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.” —A. W. Pink (1886–1952)

When we examine the “all possible worlds” idea, we find that this conception fails to properly address God’s meticulous, exhaustive sovereignty over all of His creation. It also fails to properly address God’s timelessness in His exercise of exhaustive sovereignty.

It seems to me that this desire to hold to *true* counterfactuals is grounded in an assumption of the *ability* for autonomy. In reality, we find no such grounds in Scripture. “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Or, “The king’s heart is {like} channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. “. We have a desire to further our illusory goal of autonomy, and thereby project our finitude on God’s ordination – and from that ordination, on His thoughts concerning it. Yet, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. This is not a matter of *degree*, but of *category*. God is not “less finite” in His thoughts and actions, but *infinite*. Thus, God’s thoughts concerning His creation are not *less finite*, but *infinite*. Since they are timeless thoughts, there is no linearity, and there is no “progression” to them. To say that this is so, is to misunderstand the nature of the thoughts possessed by an eternal, immutable, infinite God.

To say that, for instance, it is *possible* that one of our Lord’s bones would be broken, is to overthrow the purposes of God’s sovereign ordination. The very idea of counter-factuals necessitates that they be *counter-possible*. That is the contention I’m trying to convey, despite my inferiority of language.

If: God has decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass.
Then: Nothing that God has NOT decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, CAN come to pass.

In other word, God’s decree fixes, without one possible iota of deviation, that which CAN come to pass. Alternate possibilities are thereby utterly, definitionally, *impossible*.

Take this argument:
God is necessary in all possible worlds. God is necessarily immutable in all possible worlds. God’s decree is immutable in all possible worlds. All possible worlds are identical. Modal collapse results – there is one possible world.

Does that make it plainer, what I’m saying? Unless you want to strip out the *rest* of God’s attributes, “all possible worlds” is incoherent. There are no “counter-factuals” if you really hold to God’s absolute sovereignty. Only those who wish to posit a will in man independent from the ordination of God can seek to preserve this idea.

While we can *conceive* of a world in which counter-factuals are “true” – this does not mean such a world is possible. It only means that we are finite, and think in finite terms. For “…the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned [it, surely] I will do it.”

To say it is *possible* that God NOT do as He has eternally decreed – or that it is *possible* that God decreed things otherwise, is to so badly maul the doctrine of God as to leave it an unrecognisably mangled heap! God in his immutable perfection (wanting nothing to complete Him, lacking nothing, without fault) timelessly ordained all that He pleased to bring about.

The wonder and majesty of this conception, I fear, has been badly impugned by this idea of “all possible worlds”. While I am a rather weak vessel to attempt to do so, I feel that it must be answered.

“The carnal mind, when once it has perceived the power of God in the creation, stops there, and, at the farthest, thinks and ponders on nothing else than the wisdom, power, and goodness displayed by the Author of such a work (matters which rise spontaneously, and force themselves on the notice even of the unwilling), or on some general agency on which the power of motion depends, exercised in preserving and governing it. In short, it imagines that all things are sufficiently sustained by the energy divinely infused into them at first. But faith must penetrate deeper. After learning that there is a Creator, it must forthwith infer that he is also a Governor and Preserver, and that, not by producing a kind of general motion in the machine of the globe as well as in each of its parts, but by a special providence sustaining, cherishing, superintending, all the things which he has made, to the very minutest, even to a sparrow.” (Institutes, I,16,1)

I found this very interesting, when I read it last night. I had a suspicion Calvin would have something to say along the lines I’m going. The argument I advanced here hits on something re: The Problem of Evil and similar arguments that have been advanced many times. 1) They don’t address the entirety of who God is. 2) They don’t account for the interrelationship of God’s attributes. 3) They don’t address the interrelated exercise of God’s attributes in His creation.

Just something to think about.

This argument is an attempted formalization of the discussion found in my recent post God is Sovereign over Possibility. It’s intent is to demonstrate that the “all possible worlds” framework that is very commonly used is incompatible with Christian doctrine and the Scriptural revelation of the nature of the Triune God. If you have any possible defeaters, please post them in the comment section. Thanks!

(1) The Triune God of Scripture exists
(2) God’s essential attributes have been revealed in Scripture
(3) God is Simple(a), Sovereign(b), Holy(c), Immutable(d), Eternal(e), Wise(f), Infinite(g), Knowing(h), Powerful(i), Near(j), Loving(k), Merciful(l), Gracious(m), Just(n), Good(o), Spirit(p), Revelatory(q), Glorious(r), Joyful(s), Patient(t), Incomprehensible(u), Jealous(v), Transcendent(w), True(x), Wrathful(y), Self-Existent(z), Self-sufficient(A), Trinitarian(B), Perfect(C).
(4) God’s attributes are not external to Him (per 3A), but essential to His nature (per 3z).
(5) No one attribute can be considered separately from the other attributes, as all of God’s attributes are interrelated, (per 3a)
(6) God’s thoughts and actions are revealed as in accordance with His essence, or nature.

    (6a) God’s thoughts are therefore revealed as sovereign, eternal, immutable, transcendent, perfect, sufficient, just, holy, good, merciful, gracious, powerful, infinite, and true. (Not to be restricted to only these attributes, but abbreviated for space)
    (6b) God’s thoughts are revealed as unchanging in every respect (per 3d), and therefore preclude “changing His mind.”
    (6c) God’s thoughts are revealed as eternal (per 3e), therefore God has always had these thoughts.
    (6d) God’s thoughts are revealed as perfect (per 3C), and are therefore free of any defect of any sort.
    (6e) God’s thoughts are revealed as sovereign (per 3b), therefore they never fail to intend His rule over all things.
    (6f) God’s thoughts are revealed as sufficient (per 3A), and are always therefore complete in every way.

(7) Therefore, God’s thoughts can never include infinite numbers of hypothetical worlds not in accordance with His purposes (per 3b), as that would be contrary to His nature.
(8) God’s thoughts include His ordination of all things (per 3b).
(9) God’s thoughts concerning His ordination of all things, (or His decree) encompassing all of creation in time, are revealed to be in accordance with His nature.
(10) God’s ordination of all things, encompassing all of creation in time, is in accordance with His nature.

    (10a) God’s ordination of all things encompasses all of God’s attributes, (per 3a).
    (10b) God’s ordination of all things is therefore revealed as sovereign, eternal, immutable, transcendent, perfect, sufficient, just, holy, good, merciful, gracious, powerful, infinite, and true. (Not to be restricted to only these attributes, but abbreviated for space)
    (10c) God’s ordination of all things, encompassing all of creation in time, is revealed as unchanging in every respect (per 3d), and therefore preclude “changing His decree.”
    (10d) God’s ordination of all things, encompassing all of creation in time, is revealed as eternal (per 3e); therefore God has always decreed this state of affairs.
    (10e) God’s ordination of all things, encompassing all of creation in time, is revealed as perfect (per 3C); therefore it is free of any defect of any sort.
    (10f) God’s ordination of all things, encompassing all of creation in time, is revealed as sovereign (per 3b); therefore it never fails to accomplish His rule over all things.
    (10g) God’s ordination of all things, encompassing all of creation in time, is revealed as sufficient (per 3A); and is always, therefore complete in every way.

(11) To ordain any state of affairs not in accordance with God’s nature is impossible.
(12) Since God has always infinitely, simply, immutably, sovereignly, sufficiently, perfectly, knowingly, powerfully, justly, mercifully, graciously, revelationally and truly decreed this state of affairs, this state of affairs is the only state of affairs possible.

So, here is the thrust of the argument.

As Christians (and this argument is largely particular to the Reformed faith) we start our reasoning with The Triune God, as revealed in His scriptures. For a detailed argument for this viewpoint, see The Portable Presuppositionalist, Jamin Hubner (2009), Cornelius Van Til in Geehan, E.R., Jerusalem and Athens, (New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publ. Co., 1955), pp. 20, 21, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, Cornelius Van Til, (1980), Revisionary Immunity, Bahnsen (1975), Always Ready, Greg Bahnsen, (2008) also see my debate with Mitch LeBlanc on the thesis “The Triune God of Scripture is the proper grounds for all knowledge” (2009).

God is a God of revelation. In that revelation, the Christian Scriptures, He has perfectly communicated sufficient knowledge concerning Himself. From that revelation, we are therefore able to know God as He intends us to know Him.

Since God is simple (see this post for discussion), none of His attributes can correctly be considered apart from all of God’s attributes. (You cannot discuss only part(s) of God’s nature, or essence; for God does not have parts – or is not compound.)

Therefore, when you are considering the statement: “God is sovereign,” you immediately have to think of how God is sovereign. He is infinitely sovereign. He is truly sovereign. He is eternally sovereign. He is perfectly sovereign. Or, further, consider this example. “God created the heavens and the earth.” God created the heavens and the earth how? Sovereignly, perfectly, truly, justly, etc. When we define God, we are required to use the terms by which God describes Himself – but we are also required to recognize that no terms stands isolated from the rest.

With that rule in mind, we can then examine the concept of “all possible worlds”. First, there was Liebniz’ view. That this world is the best of all possible worlds. On the surface, I’d agree. However, there are issues with this, which we will examine.

For the purposes of this argument, we will consider the implications of these two conceptions, when compared to the theology of the Reformed faith – especially its Doctrine of God. First, recall: God’s eternality. This can be supported by Psa. 90:2, Job 36:26, Rev. 1:8, 4:8, Isa 46:9-11. However, in Isa 46, we see something very interesting. “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; {I am} God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned {it, surely} I will do it.” (Isa 46:9-11) In this passage, God does not merely *know* the end from the beginning – God has *declared* the end from the beginning. From first to last, all events in time are planned and ordered by God. This is known as God’s exhaustive Sovereignty. From the Confession I subscribe to: “God hath decreed in Himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass.” This is the highest of views concerning the place of God over His creation – and of God Himself.

With that sort of view of God, certain things must follow. If God declares the end from the beginning, and His purposes are eternal, then what must we say about possibility?

Imagine this conception of “all possible worlds” so commonly thought of. We’ll take a purportedly Christian view, to begin with. There are an infinite number of possibilities to actualize, from which God chooses the one maximally suited to His purposes. From whence do these possibilities come? The answer is obvious. The mind of God. Note one thing about these *other* possible worlds, however. If the one actualized world is *maximally* suited for His purposes – what were the other, non-actualized worlds? Non-maximally suited. This brings us to the next problem.

God is perfect. Job 36:4 says “For truly my words are not false; One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.” Job 37:16 says “Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, The wonders of one perfect in knowledge.” So, therefore, God’s knowledge is perfect. Since this is so – can you tell me? Why does God *eternally* think of imperfect worlds, while *eternally* discarding them as imperfect? This brings us to another problem. There are an infinite number of them, according to the theory.

Why would God eternally think of an infinite number of imperfect worlds? I think that this is not necessary. God, being one, is not required to think of an infinite number of possible, imperfect worlds. I think it is much more reasonable to consider that He thinks of one finite world infinitely – that one finite world has been eternally and infinitely known by the Trinity (perfectly, sovereignly, omnipotently, and truly – again, not exhausting His attributes, but to save space) – and as such, all possibilities within this world have been immutably ordained by Him.

Let’s sum this up. Since God is Simple, ignoring the sum total of God’s attributes cannot be done without presenting a strawman of the Christian position. A Christian arguing without a properly balanced view of God’s attributes is badly handling the Word – and impugning God Himself. The presentation of the view of “all possible worlds” presupposes a God who is *not* eternal, *not* sovereign, and *not* omnipotent. To use this sort of approach is to undercut the entirety of God’s Scriptural witness concerning Himself. This idea is a direct assault on God’s sovereignty – it proposes that God is *not* sovereign over everything in His creation. This idea is a direct violation of God’s eternality – that ideas are something God picks up, then discards. This idea is a direct violation of God’s immutability – God cannot change His mind, and there never was “plans A-Z” that God had to select from, on penalty of directly violating this attribute. This idea is a direct violation of God’s perfection, as it postulates a multitude of imperfect conceptions, originating in the mind of God. For all these reasons, and a host of other reasons as well, this conception fails miserably as a proper depiction of reality.

Argument format updated on Dec 6, 8:59pm

Anthropic Arguments and Assumptions

If God is morally perfect then He must perform the morally best actions, but creating humans is not the morally best action. If this line of reasoning can be maintained then the mere fact that humans exist contradicts the claim that God exists.

HT: urbanphilosophy.net

Look at the assumption required for the second half of this sentence. “creating humans is not the morally best action”. Says who? By what standard? As usual, I think we can guess what that is. Anthropic Arguments and Assumptions

Walker suggests that God is morally culpable for creating human beings with defective natures (defective in comparison to God’s).

Is He, now? Culpable to who? Oh, wait. That’s the assumption! The same assumption all of these dumb arguments make. God is answerable to man. That’s funny, here I thought Scripture answered that sort of ridiculousness.

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it {does} not {depend} on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And {He did so} to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, {even} us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. ~Rom 9:14-24

See, man always believes that he can pass judgment on God. That he is morally autonomous. Scripture says differently. This text rightly denies man’s ability to judge God. It then goes into an explanation of God’s intention in the creation of man. God is not unjust. A Holy God can rightly judge the man with a fallen nature – and the fallen man cannot judge the Holy God. This argument fails on point #7, for those interested in the formal argument also included in the post linked to above. I’m not concerned with the rest of the points, although I would likely dispute them if 7 didn’t fail so spectacularly. The reason 7 fails is because it introduces that pesky “should”. yourenotthebossofmeWho says He “should”? Man does. Man is not capable of imposing a “should” upon God, as man is not morally autonomous. Scripture relates to us why that “should” is incorrect, and the argument fails to even give any reason whatsoever why the “should” is applicable to God. It is an assumption of human autonomy.

I truly wish atheists who make these sorts of arguments would pay more attention to what they are arguing against. I’m sure this will be touted, with much hoopla, in that community – but it is not anything novel, damaging, or even explanatory. To break it down, a pot says “I don’t like the way you made things. If you didn’t make things the way I wanted, I deny that you exist – because I’ll only believe in a Potter that makes things the way I want them to be.” Not overly satisfying, or convincing. It would also help if they didn’t use an argument directly countered in Scripture. That would, of course, assume that they had read it. It doesn’t look like this atheologian bothered, sadly.

God is Sovereign over Possibility

God is Sovereign. He ordains all things, whatsoever. He is unconstrained by anything; yet by Him, all things are constrained. God is eternal. He did not begin, He did not end. He is outside of time. God is unchanging. No aspect of God is subject to change. He does not alter in any fashion.

A popular (and approaching universal) conception of possibility entails there being a multiplicity of hypothetical possibilities to be selected from. In the case of God, it is often advanced that God is selecting from amongst multiple possibilities which He has to choose from. My design is to show that such a conception is completely at odds with who God is. First, Scripture.

which He will bring about at the proper time– He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him [be] honor and eternal dominion! Amen. ~1 Tim. 6:15-16

also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will – Eph 1:11

Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; [I am] God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned [it, surely] I will do it. ~ Isaiah 46:9-11

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him [be] the glory forever. Amen. ~Romans 11:33-36

Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it? ~Isa 43:13

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, {Too} little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity. ~Micah 5:2

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. ~Rom 1:20

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, {be} honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. ~1Tim 1:17

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? ~Heb 9:14

{Abraham} planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. ~Gen 21:33

The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms; And He drove out the enemy from before you, And said, ‘Destroy!’ ~Deu 33:27

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. Then all the people said, “Amen,” and praised the LORD. ~1 Chr 16:36

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen. ~ Psa 41:13

Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. ~Psa 90:2

Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. ~Psa 93:2

Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, {we have} an everlasting Rock. ~Isa 26:4

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. ~Isa 40:28

But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation. ~Jer 10:10

Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O LORD, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct. ~Hab 1:12

Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind. ~1 Sam 15:29

The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek. ~ Psa 110:4

For this the earth shall mourn And the heavens above be dark, Because I have spoken, I have purposed, And I will not change My mind, nor will I turn from it. ~ Jer 4:28

For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. ~Mal 3:6

My covenant I will not violate, Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. ~Psa 89:34

Jesus Christ {is} the same yesterday and today and forever. ~Heb 13:8

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow ~James 1:17.

for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. ~Rom 11:29

Therefore the earth will mourn and the heavens above grow dark, because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back. ~Jer 4:28

Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. ~Psa 102:26

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. ~Heb 6:17-18

Note first: This is the consistent view of Scripture. God is Sovereign. God is Eternal. God is immutable. God is also self-sufficient, all-wise, infinite, holy, trinitarian, omniscient, faithful, perfect, loving, self-existent, just, merciful, good, and omnipresent. All of these attributes are interrelated. Therefore, if an imperfect conception of one of God’s attributes is held to, the rest are compromised.

For the concerns of this post, I will concentrate on the first three mentioned, but will refer to all of God’s attributes, to show how the argument I am making violates none of God’s attributes as listed above, while showing how the popular conception of possibility violates many, if not them all.

When we think of God, should we think of God as thinking linearly? Where every one of his thoughts follows a linear progression? To do such a thing requires that God be *changing* – having *new* thoughts. This is unacceptable, when matched against Scripture. So, how must we think of God’s thinking? Well, God is eternal. Would His thoughts not also be eternal? God, being omniscient, knows all things. God, being eternal, knows all things simultaneously. God’s knowledge of all things is also related to His ordination of all things – His sovereign decree. As God decreed all things from before the foundation of the world, He therefore knows all that He has decreed. Does God “know” that which He has not decreed? What content does a hypothetical “something” not decreed by God have? In these other supposed worlds, not decreed by God, what is the content of them? Not-real, not-decreed non-things? Such a concept, when examined, seems quite a bit akin to “God knows something about nothing”

Further, there cannot be possibility apart from God – as He is self-sufficient and self-existent; since He is, He is the only grounds that can exist for any other existence, and the only thing in existence that can provide that grounds, in His self-sufficiency. If God is perfect – and nothing exists (including concepts, I’d argue) that does not have God as it’s Creator, then this concept involves God having well-nigh infinite numbers of imperfect conceptions of His creation! Not “a creation that is imperfect” – but an “imperfect conception of creation” – almost infinite numbers of them!

When we think of God’s thoughts, should we not think of them as eternal thoughts? Do God’s thoughts escape Him? Do they go away? Are they, unlike everything else about Him, NOT from everlasting to everlasting? If God’s thoughts are, therefore, eternal – “as high above as the heavens are above the earth” – do we *really* expect all of these imperfect conceptions, and as *eternally existing* conceptions? If God’s thoughts are eternal, if they are perfect, if they are sovereign, if they are good, if they are holy, if they are immutable; etc, etc. If they are all that, God would think exactly as He intends, without changing, for all eternity, with utter control, about everything He has decreed will take place. In other words – God thinks exactly as He intends to, without error, and without change. He thinks it for eternity, with sovereign control, and with utter holiness. There IS no possibility apart from the ordination and will of the Holy, Eternal, Sovereign, unchanging God.

A possibility apart from God’s control of it is an affront to His sovereignty. A concept which is imperfect has nothing to do with His perfection. It is NOT good. It is NOT holy. Linear thoughts are not the thoughts of an eternal God. A process in which God chooses from all of the “possible worlds” in which men make “free choices” is not loving – as men are fallen, and *cannot choose God,* and neither are they free. It is also absurd.

If God chooses from among “possible worlds” – what makes them possible or impossible?

If it is God – are the ones not chosen “possible” at all? Why use the term?

If it is NOT God – what puts a condition on God? Is God then sovereign? Is He self-sufficient? Is He truly self-existent? These are things I don’t see ways around, from Scripture, and the revelation of God’s nature to us.

If God is sovereign over all things, He is sovereign over possibility, and always perfectly sovereign.
If God is eternal, His thoughts are eternal. They always have existed, always are existing, and always will exist.
If God is immutable, He cannot change His intention, His mind, His conceptions, His determination of possibility.
If God is perfect, neither His thoughts nor His actions can be imperfect, and this can never change.

We could go on and on with combinations of God’s attributes – but we MUST think linearly, as God has created us to do so; so it is hard for us to contemplate all of God’s attributes at once. Impossible, probably. We do not have that capacity. When we attempt it, however, we find it hard to reconcile these ideas. I’d welcome feedback on these things.

In summary, the concept of all possible worlds cannot be compatible with the Scriptural picture God gives us of Himself.

Suggested Reading:
Whate’er My God Ordains: A Biblical Study of God’s Control
Always Ready, Dr. Greg Bahnsen – esp. Chap. 16, Worldviews in Collision
Revisionary Immunity, Bahnsen (1975)
Science, Subjectivity And Scripture, Banhsen (1979)
At War With The Word – The Necessity Of Biblical Antithesis, Bahnsen (1990)
The Problem of Knowing the “Super-Natural”, Bahnsen (1991)

Let’s say you’re trying to compile a program – “Christian Living v1.0”, using the programming language “God’s Word”. You consult many manuals, but you just can’t seem to get it. Every compilation you attempt results in a crash. Every attempt you make at solving it just gets you into bigger and bigger messes.

Well, back to the drawing board, and back to those manuals! The more you read in these manuals, the more you realize that your system just doesn’t meet the requirements for compiling the program! It doesn’t have the right hardware, the right software. Something wrong here, something’s wrong there… and you decide that you just have to buckle down and upgrade your system, before this program will compile.

That analogy breaks down at some point – the user is separate from the software and hardware, after all. Further, we don’t upgrade ourselves. We have to be brought to the manufacturer for this to be accomplished. I think it’s a good illustration of why we can’t expect perfect understanding of Scripture, however. The problem does not lie in the author of Scripture. It does not lie in Scripture itself. The problem lies in us. First, it lies in our nature. We do not think or act correctly about anything. We are sinful, fallen creatures who cannot properly operate in terms of perfection. Second, we cannot, due to that nature, properly understand that which we are required to understand. Third, we cannot act in accordance with it.

In a conversation earlier today, the objection was made that God’s Word lacked sufficient clarity, since men were always arguing over what it meant. Second, the objection was made that if Scripture was sufficiently clear, we would not need teachers in order to properly understand it. My first response was to ask “By what standard do you think it lacks sufficient clarity?” and my second was to ask “By what standard *should* it have sufficient clarity?” He didn’t “get” the attempted push to reveal the worldview presuppositions, so I hit on a mention of “programming languages” that was mentioned. “If, like you say, there are hardware and software constraints for the compilation of programs, why would you think there is any difference when someone is trying to run, or to compile, say, a life requiring hardware/software they do not have?” I then went into Romans 12, and it’s admonition that we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Also, I referenced that humans, in their fallen state, do not have the capability of recognizing the precepts of Scripture apart from the demands of their own nature. For this to be accomplished correctly, there needs to be a change in them.

The objection was then raised that he was talking about Christians. Very well. Even in Christians – are we to be understood as saying that the renewal of sanctification is immediate and total? I cannot think that Scripture would back this up. Our sanctification is progressive. We do not instantly grasp all things, nor should we be expected to. Further, I mentioned, the Spirit, the author of Scripture, indwells believers. The Spirit uses means to accomplish His end of our sanctification. That same Spirit is who apportions the gifts to believers – including that of pastor, and teacher. These gifted men use the entirety of Scripture and bring it to bear on any given passage – teaching us to conform ourselves to it – through his gift of the Spirit, and through the work of the Spirit in us, which confirms the truth of their teaching and renews us accordingly.

We aren’t instantly and completely changed into perfect expositors and exegetes. We are brought along by the Spirit, and the means of grace which He has provided – for, as Scripture says:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Tim 3:16-17

So, in closing – remember. Scripture isn’t unclear. Men “see through a glass darkly”.

Debate Transcript

Debate: Is the Triune God of the Scriptures the basis for knowledge?

Affirmative: RazorsKiss

Negative: MitchLeBlanc

RazorsKiss:

1. Introduction

* 1. I’d like to thank Mitch, and all the folks at Urban Philosophy, for hosting the debate this evening, and I’d like to compliment Mitch for his willingness to debate such vital issues. I am no sort of scholar – which I admit – but I would also be the first to tell anyone present that the pursuit of knowledge is something which every human being should be engaged. Where my opponent and I differ, I do believe, is how to properly go about doing just that! I hope and pray that those who watch this discussion will at least take in what they see, and examine it, as the Bereans did in Acts. My earnest desire is that those who watch this exchange will be edified, educated at some point, and perhaps able to more correctly understand where I, at least, am coming from.
* 2. First, the resolution. As I am the affirmative, I get the pleasure of the definition! “The Triune God of Scripture is the proper ground for all knowledge.” I firmly hold to the validity of this proposition, and further, to its ability to explain all of reality as an epistemological basis. For, you see, I’m a Christian. Christians, per their own Scripture, must be humble. They must not be proud, or haughty – or look down at others from their pedestal of superiority. As a Christian, I fully realize that of myself – I’m no different from any other man alive. I share the same Image, which I am created to reflect – and I share the same nature. A human nature. I am a creature – the product of the pinnacle of workmanship of the Creator of all things.
* 3. Since I am a creature, I do not need to be concerned about being my own basis. I need no such concern as a chair needs no such concern about its basis. It has a Creator, as do I! As a Christian, there is a fundamental difference in my thinking – and if I am correct, there is a fundamental problem with the way the entire world thinks about the basis for their own knowledge. I have heard the claim to “arrogance” before. If I ever state something on my own behalf, I will grant that such an accusation is justified. Should I comport myself rudely, as if I am superior, or as if I think myself to be who I am because I am somehow higher – I request that you point this out. However, as a creature – I claim to have a basis for my knowledge which is utterly higher, and transcendently greater than I, or any other human being can ever hope to be.
* 4. Since my claim is not based on myself, but upon a self-revelation from the Triune God described in Scripture – the claim in this case is on the behalf of another. It is conceivable I suppose, to call a perfect Being arrogant for claiming to be your Creator; to own you and the dust of the earth man was formed from It is another thing to assert that His claim to ownership is unwarranted. If what I say is true – God owns you. He owns me. He owns every particle of matter, every joule of energy; established every law we think in accordance with, and ordained every law which governs the world we exist in, at His good pleasure. In short, ladies and gentlemen; if I am correct – and God did do what His Word reveals Him to have accomplished – then every possible foundation for every way of thinking not in accordance with His perfect ordinance is utter, absolute folly.
* 5. My intent is to demonstrate that there is no other epistemological basis that can possibly compare to that possessed by a Christian holding the self-revelation of the Triune God. My goal is to show that any worldview attempting to argue from other than the Christian foundation is, in fact, borrowing from that foundation to do so. That any worldview asserting some sort of “objective” basis for the laws of logic specifically, but for nature and morality as well – is pure subjectivism wrapped up in an objective shell consisting of concepts stolen from their Creator. Concepts like universals. Universals which are abstract, binding, have inherent meaning, and apply to every person – whether they like them to, or WANT them to or not. They apply nonetheless.
* 6. Without the assumption of these universals, there is no coherent communication possible We assume that when we speak, there is a being we are speaking to, with corresponding cognitive processes, having the ability to reason, and possessing the capacity to make conclusions, based upon our communication with them. I have yet to see an epistemological basis which accounts for universals in any satisfying manner. I have a Guarantor which is self-existent, self-sufficient, able to communicate, omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, and sovereign. This grounds for our epistemology, I argue, is the only proper one.
* 2) Epistemology
* 1. When we encounter words like “epistemology”, there is a tendency to make them mysterious – to make it something only the initiated can truly understand. I disagree. Epistemology is the subject at hand every time a child asks you “why”. This endless chain of questions will eventually have a terminator. Where those questions end is where I think you’ll find your epistemological foundation. Why do we know what we know? How do we know? How is this knowledge acquired? What is this knowledge? On what basis do we know it? By what standard? On what (or whose) authority? Those questions are the realm of our discussion.
* 2. “The method of reasoning by presupposition may be said to be indirect, rather than direct. The issue between believers and nonbelievers in Christian theism cannot be settled by a direct appeal to “facts” or “laws” whose nature and significance is already agreed upon by both parties to the debate. The question is rather as to what the final reference point required to make the “facts” and “laws” intelligible. The question is as to what the “facts” and “laws” really are.’ (Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 122) As is said elsewhere, by the same author; “We cannot ask how we know without at the same time asking what we know.” (Van Til, Van Til’s Apologetic, 105) In other words – the question of epistemology is central to any consideration of rational discourse. What, how, and why do you know? To go elsewhere before this is addressed, is to beg the question in the favour of your own epistemology.
* 3. So, to answer that question, we are discussing the deep things of knowledge – in fact, we are discussing whether what we think we know, is truly knowledge at all. Still further, we are questioning everything we think is a justification for the knowledge we claim to hold. Since, as Scripture says, I have “the full assurance of understanding, {resulting} in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, {that is,} Christ {Himself,}in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” – I can say, with perfect certainty, that the Triune God of Scripture is not only the proper grounds for all knowledge – but the only possible grounds for all knowledge! I will develop that further in my statement tonight, but my goal is to demonstrate that any epistemology not grounded in that self-existent, self-sufficient perfection of Being is utterly insufficient grounds for knowledge.
* 3) Proper Epistemology
* 1. First, let me remind my opponent, and my audience, that there are no brute facts. Facts are not neutral entities, and they cannot be interpreted in a neutral fashion. This is because facts can only exist in relation to other facts; further, without exception these are interpreted with reference to still other facts. This shows knowledge is interrelated and further shows that facts cannot be interpreted outside of your epistemology, which is a network of assumptions that the one holding that worldview considers to be true.
* 2. Therefore, as philosophers, we have to consider the meaning of the facts – or the concepts – we examine. Those meanings are inseparable from our epistemological foundation. When we think about anything, we are forced to place it into our interpretive grid. We judge all facts through the “prism of our epistemology”, in fact. Here is where I get to the heart of my position.
* 3. As a Christian, I have two axiomatic, interrelated foundations for my epistemology, and for everything else I encounter through the grid of that epistemology. The Triune God of Scripture – who created the universe and all it contains; who established and even now maintains the laws which govern that creation. That is foundation one.
* 4. The self-revelation of that self-existent, self-conscious, self-sufficient, omniscient, omnipotent, all-wise, immutable, eternal, and sovereign God; The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, are the self-communication of the extent, nature, and specifics of His eternal properties – which are the guarantor of the laws and assumptions which we, as creatures in the image of that God, require to operate rationally and coherently. That is foundation 2.
* 5. From those two foundations, I am able to make a rational examination of the facts I encounter, while having warrant for the knowledge I possess. Christians have the privilege of certainty. A certainty based on the most fundamental guarantor of truth. Further, as a Christian, my claim is necessarily exclusive. By the same logical laws we all recognize to be applicable, for whatever reason, a proposition cannot be true when the contrary of that proposition is true. Given Christianity’s exclusive claim – its claim to a self-existent, self-sufficient, universal, and absolute standard – any claimant contrary to Christian epistemology is therefore denied by definition.
* 6. From the position of Christian epistemology, there is more than ample justification to hold the true beliefs we hold. There is self-existence, which then guarantees all contingent existence. There is omnipotence, which can guarantee the absolute authority of God over all His creation, including willing and thinking creatures. There is the omniscience and self-knowledge of God, which guarantees that what His creatures can know is intelligible – that creatures can, in fact, derivatively know the facts about His creation, and those facts that He reveals about Himself. There is the internal “sense”, that Calvin calls the “sensus divinitatus,” which all men possess, as image-bearers of their Creator – and which allow them to recognize the God that they even sometimes deny.
* 7. However, this leads us to a question. Can someone without the axioms that Christians hold “know” anything? As defined, no. They can’t. They do not have a justification for their beliefs. However, they themselves do have true beliefs – which do, in many cases, result in success. In a sense, they do have knowledge. Not because of their epistemology – but despite it. In these cases, they are simply creatures forced to admit that despite the incoherence of their epistemology, they do, in fact, know things anyway.
* 4) The Impossibility of the Contrary
* 1. So, now we get to where the rubber meets the road. If I claim that non-Christians can have knowledge at all, even if it is faulty knowledge – doesn’t my argument fall apart? I don’t think this is necessitated. What the Christian position alone can guarantee is any contribution to knowledge whatsoever. “However, the presuppositionalist maintains that the unbeliever can come to know certain things (despite his espoused rejection of God’s truth) for the simple reason that he does have revealed presuppositions – and cannot but have them as a creature made in God’s image and living in God’s created world. Although he outwardly and vehemently denies the truth of God, no unbeliever is inwardly and sincerely devoid of the knowledge of God. It is not a saving knowledge of God to be sure, but even as condemning knowledge natural revelation still provides a knowledge of God. Thus, according to Biblical epistemology, while men deny their Creator they nevertheless possess an inescapable knowledge of Him; and because they know God (even though they know Him in curse and reprobation) they are able to attain a limited understanding of the world.” (Bahnsen, Always Ready, pg38)
* 2. What my claim really entails is that an unbeliever, trying to start from a position of epistemic autonomy, is like a child who sits on his father’s lap – and uses that position for the purpose of slapping his father in the face. The fundamental disconnect I see in secular epistemology (and Christians who use that same epistemology) is the universal lack of a solution from unbelieving philosophy for problems like that of induction, the one and the many, whether the will is free, and the like. Christianity has an answer for these – provided the Christian answers them from Scriptural revelation, and does not adopt the same principles that unbelieving philosophy does. It is even more so a problem for the unbeliever – because he doesn’t even have (not always asserted, but always present to some degree) the epistemological foundation of the Christian. An unbelieving man has no justification for his predication. He has no basis for his use of logical laws. After all, wherefore and whence do these laws get their justification? There is no area in which his thoughts, ideas or concepts can be said to be properly grounded. With feet planted firmly in midair, he asserts his autonomy over his own thinking, and his self-sufficiency for the use of that thinking!
* 3. This thinking is dangerous – to the unbeliever, and to everyone else. It is little more than, as many assert, self-worship. If the unbeliever thinks he is the ultimate, not simply the immediate basis for epistemology – I see no possible way for that assertion to be justified. (The unbeliever) “thinks that his thinking process is normal. He thinks that his mind is the final court of appeal in all matters of knowledge. He takes himself to be the reference point for all interpretation of the facts. That is, he has epistemologically become a law unto himself: autonomous.” (Always Ready, 46) It is like the famous (and farcical) story of the scientists who discover how to create life from common dirt! Excited, they suddenly stop – A voice challenges them – “I doubt you can.” “All right, then” (say the scientists) – “we will!” As they pick up shovels, they stop again, as the voice says “No, no. Get your own dirt.” This is what reasoning is like without the foundation of God’s self-existence, known through His self-revelation. It is a man trying to justify his “own” knowledge – when everything he encounters – including himself, belongs to God. The very idea is utterly absurd. Since it is impossible to have knowledge on any other basis, save that of God’s intrinsic nature and self-communication of the properties of that nature – it is impossible for any human system of reasoning to have justification at all. In short, Christianity’s epistemology is the only epistemology possible – because it’s impossible to have any other coherent, true, and justified basis for thought, perception, knowledge, or understanding of ourselves, or the creation in which we dwell.

MitchLeBlanc:

Before I begin, I must tell you that I will be making use of philosophical arguments, in the form of syllogisms. This may be new for a few of you, in which case I invite you to follow along as best you can.

In our discussion this evening, RK will attempt to show that the very foundations of knowledge depend upon the Christian God and that any reasoning which does not presuppose the Christian God is arbitrary and descents into absurdity. RK’s position states that I enter into to reasoned discourse with my own set of presuppositions that exclude the Christian God. In doing so, the internal consistency of my logical system fails and as such does my ability to accept God’s existence, since my presuppositions limit what I will accept as evidence. Does this mean I cannot reason? No, presuppositionalists do not assert this, however, they do assert that my use of reason is contingent on their God and I am just wilfully ignorant to his existence.

First, as with any discussion of this type we need a solid definition of God. RK asserts that the Christian God is the basis for all knowledge, but what IS the Christian God? How can we define it?

There is a clear ontological error in the proposition of God. It is proposed that the Christian God is supernatural. I am unsure as to how one is supposed to interpret this description of God. This is not a positive definition, but a negative definition. “supernatural” or “immaterial” tells us what God is not (natural/material). Something that can only be explained in negative terms, is meaningless. The very definition of “being” is to have attributes, this requires more than simply non-attributes. Furthermore, the proposed positive attributes of God fail in execution. The positive attributes we apply to God are simply attributes which apply to human beings, we just extrapolate them. Human beings can be loving, but god is all-loving. Human beings can know, but god is all-knowing. How can we know that God (whatever it may be) is even capable of love, or knowledge.

As the Philosopher George Smith explains:

“All of the supposedly positive qualities of God arise in a distinctively human context of finite existence, and when wrenched from this context to apply to a supernatural being, they cease to have meaning.”

But the problem is direr than that, consider when I ask “What is a banana?”… giving me answers of the characteristics of the banana don’t do much to help me. Hearing that it is long, yellow, soft doesn’t do provide any cognitive meaning whatsoever. Smith again says (with unie representing a variable needing definition):

“To say that an ‘unie’ possesses wisdom in proportion to its nature-while stipulating that such wisdom is different in kind from man’s wisdom and that the nature of an ‘unie’ is unknowable-contributes nothing to our understanding of ‘unie’ or to the meaning of the attributes when applied to an ‘unie.’

To say that God is ‘good’ or ‘wise’ is to say nothing more than some unknowable being possesses some unknown qualities in an unknowable way.”

It simply does not seem that there is any cognitive meaning associated with purporting the term “God”. To purport that god is infinite, limitless and immaterial tells us what God is not, and never verges on explaining what he is.

With this issue established and set aside for the sake of furthering the discussion, let me move on to the crux of issue. What will be henceforth be referred to as the “Transcendental Argument for God” or TAG.

While I do not consider the transcendental argument an actual argument in the form presented (it appears more as a bare assertion), we must understand precisely what is being said.

When it is said that logic presupposes God it is meant that A presupposes B in the sense that we could not reason A without assuming B. However, it is important to note that even if to make sense of A one must assume B, it does not follow that B is true.

The Philosopher Michael Martin gives the following example:

“if I am trying to communicate to an audience by speaking to them in English, my action makes no sense unless they understand English. But it does not follow that they do. They might only understand Chinese. Scientists listening to radio signals from outer space in order to make contact with extraterrestrial life presuppose that such life is possible. But it does not follow that it is. Similarly… if the Christian worldview is presupposed by the deductive validity, it does not follow that the Christian worldview is true. It might be the case that deductive validity is a myth. TAG would not establish the truth of the Christian worldview but only the inconsistency of atheists who presuppose deductive validity.”

I think the example is clear enough, but it should be noted once more. TAG cannot establish the truth of God’s existence, only the inconsistency of atheists who hold a presupposition regarding deductive logic.

There is another manner in which the TAG asserts presuppositionalism. We have seen the first, that A presupposes B in that one cannot make sense of A without B.. but consider:

A presupposes B meaning that A logically implies B. This means that if A presupposes B, one cannot assert the truth of A and deny B.

An example is: giving birth to a human child presupposes being a woman, meaning it is inconsistent to claim that someone is giving birth to a human child but not a woman.

So we currently have two possibilities regarding the manner of how logic presupposes the Christian God.

* 1. A presupposes B in that one cannot make sense of A without assuming B.
* 2. A presupposes B in that A logically implies B and thus it is inconsistent to assert A and deny B.

With regard to (1) I shall show that we can make sense of deductive validity without belief in the Christian God.

As for (2) I do not see any contradiction in denying that Christianity is true and affirming the validity of the law of non-contradiction.

The Law of non-contradiction states that something cannot be both P and not P at the same time. (your pants cannot be both on and off simultaneously. To apply this to the TAG would be as follows:

A presupposes B in that A logically implies B and thus it is inconsistent to assert A and deny B

=The law of non-contradiction(A) presupposes the Christian God(B) in that (A) logically implies(B) and thus it is inconsistent to assert (A) and deny (B).

I do not see any absurdity in denying God and affirming the law of non-contradiction. Cleary doing so is not the same as denying that one who bears a child is a woman. Perhaps RK can show how this is absurd.

To that point RK may argue that the logical principles are dependent on God. If this is true, logical principles are contingent and not necessary. To this effect, I am almost certain that a presuppositionalist would argue that the logic is an intrinsic part of God’s nature and as such, logic is necessary. From this, it would be stated that since the principles of Logic are necessarily part of God’s nature, if God did not exist there would be no logic and subsequently no Law of Non-Contradiction. Following this line of reasoning, it would be absurd for me to deny God’s existence and affirm the law of non-contradiction.

First, one should be aware of the claim that logic is part of God’s nature. What does it mean to say this? We must first remember that:

God is defined as being supernatural. That is to say “Supernatural” is defined as being beyond nature (not natural). This is a negative definition and a broken concept. There is a fallacy committed when it is stated that God is supernatural but has a nature. Something that is beyond nature, may not possess a nature. (Fallacy of the Stolen Concept)

I am sure RK will argue that Nature and having a nature are two different concepts. This raises more issues. To argue this, you would be begging the question that we can speak of nature devoid of nature. Furthermore, basic ontology tells us that to exist is to have positive attributes. To define something as beyond nature is to define something as beyond ability, something beyond ability or something beyond limits cannot exist by definition. Yet this is not the only time in which the fallacy of the stolen concept is committed:

If God does not presuppose logic, and rather the contrary is true, how can we identify God as being God? For should God not presuppose logic, he must deny the very law of identity (that says a thing is what it is). Hence, the very statement “God exists and logic is his very nature” commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Further, when it is stated that logic is a part of God’s nature, there is a category error of the first order being made. Logic is a referrer to entities, not the entities in themselves. What does it mean to say that the nature of God is logical when logic refers only to arguments? Perhaps RK means that God has an ontological character, but I have shown that God cannot by definition.

Thus, the claim is made that it is incoherent to deny the existence of God because of his very nature. But what is this saying? It is merely a reformed version of the Ontological argument and concluding that God must exist necessarily because he is God.

If I am to accept this, RK must show the validity and soundness of one of the Ontological arguments. Otherwise, there is nothing incoherent about denying the existence of God.

However, there IS something incoherent about denying the law of non-contradiction. To further reiterate this point, consider the following:

* (1) It is not the case that it is not that P and not P (law of non-contradiction denied, meaning it would be possible for your pants to be both on and off simultaneously)

* (2) It is not the case that God exists.

From (1) we easily see a contradiction, but there is no such contradiction from (2) unless we apply a third premise stating that:

* (3) It is logically necessary that God exists.

Should RK want to make this claim, as I’ve said before, he will have to provide an Ontological argument showing that God’s existence is logically necessary.

It should also be further noted that (3) is often confused for another premise. There is a difference between God necessarily existing and God (if existing) necessarily having no beginning or end.

Consider:

* (4) It is logically necessary that if at any time God existed, then at every time He existed.

While (4) is required in presumably every branch of Christianity, and with good philosophical warrant, (3) isn’t. In fact very few theologians assert (3).

Even Dr. Frame, an advocate of the TAG has stated there is nothing inconsistent about denying the existence of God and affirming the law of non-contradiction in an exchange between him and Michael Martin.

As stated before, if the Law of Non-Contradiction logically implies the existence of God, then denying the existence of God should fault the law of Non-Contradiction. But we have not been show that this is the case:

Christian Philosopher Cornelius Van Til attempted to do so in his book “The Defense of the Faith” (pg 256-257) when he says:

“All predication presupposes the existence of God … while antitheism holds that predication is possible without any reference of God. This at once gives the terms ‘is’ and ‘is not’ quite different connotations. For the antitheist these terms play against the background of bare possibilities. Hence ‘is’ and ‘is not’ may very well be reversed. The antitheist has, if effect, denied the very Law of Non-contradiction, inasmuch as the Law of Non-contradiction, to operate at all, must have its foundation in God.””

To make sense of this statement, it is helpful to reformulate into an argument (as per Michael Martin):

(1) If the Christian God did not exist, then predication would operate against a background of bare possibility.

(2) If predication operates against a background of bare possibility, the predication of P to x ( x is P) may be reversed and ~ P might be predicated of x ( x is ~ P)

(3) But if the predication of P to x ( x is P) is reversed and ~ P is be predicated of x ( x is ~ P), then the Law of Non-contradiction must be denied.
________________________________________________
(4) Therefore, If the Christian God did not exist, then the Law of Non-contradiction must be denied

There are several problems, however. In (1) Van Til uses the term “background of bare possibility”, referring to the realm of logical possibility. We can then grant that the Law of Non-contradiction MUST hold because without that holding, by definition, there is no logically possibility. That is to say, logical possibility is determined by the Law of Non-Contradiction.

(1) States that if predication operates via logical possibility, then we may reverse the predications completely. The suggestion is to say that we can have a blanket be orange at one time and not orange at another time. Granted, but this is no way necessitates that the blanket can be orange and not orange simultaneously. Henceforth, (3) is false. Reversing the predicate does not change the Law of Non-Contradiction. As such, the argument is unsound and we can reject (4).

In closing, I have shown that there are issues with the very presentation of the term “God”, the inability of the TAG to establish its conclusion, and lastly the failure of the claim that logic is dependent on God. As I’ve said, should this be so, one could not deny God and affirm logic, but one can. It would only be inconsistent to deny God, if his existence was logically necessary, and this is not the case (note that even if God existed, he need not necessarily be logically necessary). RK has, in effect, has purported (and assumed) the conclusion of the Ontological argument without defending it.

RazorsKiss (Rebuttal):

Having success in using the laws of logic is not the same as saying that you have a warrant to be using it.

The question is about whether we have warrant for considering logic as axiomatic.

It seems apparent to me that Mitch is not providing a justification for using the law that he is using – nor did I see a case that did anything to disprove mine.

He is simply saying that it is usable – the same problem Martin falls into, in his TANG

That is not the question. On what grounds can it be considered warranted to be using abstract universals which apply to all (created) thinking beings? I have a proper ground to be doing so.

Obviously, an atheist is able to /operate/ with success using the logical laws which his brain operates according to. In fact, they MUST do so.

The question at hand is not whether – but /why/ he is using them.

Another subject I’d like to address are what clearly seem to be equivocations on his part. First, his insistence that “supernatural” is a negative definition.

“Super” is not a negative, but a maximal descriptor, as he should well know.

Mitch, with his studies in religion, should also know that “immaterial” is not the only descriptor of that characteristic of God.

The typical term is “Spirit”. The reason “immaterial” is often used is to point out that it is antithetical to matter.

Antithesis does not require derivation from his preferred term.

God is Spirit, as Scripture plainly teaches. God is NOT “not material”. That is the distinction.

I am also amazed at his choice of terminology – as if his making this (seemingly arbitrary) distinction therefore means that there is no longer any conception of God being defined by His attributes in a positive fashion – as I clearly did in my opening statement.

Further, I found his discussion concerning “extrapolating” unconvincing.

God has given us positive statements of His own attributes in His Scriptures.

In fact, He specifically speaks about the Transcendence of His attributes!

“For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:9)

Smith’s assertion to follow simply points more clearly toward the inherent assumption – that God’s self-descriptions are insufficient to be considered. They are passed over, walked by, as if they do not even exist.

While Mitch may agree with Smith – it remains a naked assertion.

When he says that: “To say that God is ‘good’ or ‘wise’ is to say nothing more than some unknowable being possesses some unknown qualities in an unknowable way;” this remains an assertion.

While Mitch may assert that there is no “cognitive meaning associated” – all this says is what we knew already. Unbelievers don’t believe, and think there is something inherently wrong with the concept.

While this may seem to follow from Mitch’s presupposed conception that there is something wrong with using the term “immaterial” – please note that I did not use the term, and that the term is being used in a very… “interesting” way.

I find it interesting that Mitch dismisses, due to an equivocation, the fact that God has many self-descriptions in Scripture – and there are many, many positive ones.

Since he was, I can’t help but think, insufficiently rigorous in that analysis, I will also turn toward his next point.

First, I have to point out that his analysis of TAG misses.. a lot of the “meat” to the argument.

I had to smile when I read this portion: “I think the example is clear enough, but it should be noted once more. TAG cannot establish the truth of God’s existence, only the inconsistency of atheists who hold a presupposition regarding deductive logic.”

The problem with saying this – is that this is precisely what I intend.

I’m not arguing for the existence of God.

That is not the point of the debate.

My intent, precisely, is what Mitch listed above.

If any worldview is inconsistent – incoherent – *especially* in epistemological terms – it cannot be proper grounds for all knowledge.

What also strikes me as interesting is that Mitch has apparently missed the central portion of the argument – it is epistemological. If your epistemology fails, it all fails. I tried to point out, in my opening statement, that the discussion was epistemological. The argument, throughout, save one small part, is completely to do with the existence of God.

What Mitch seems to be attempting is a defeater of the TAG argument. I’m not making the TAG argument for the existence of God. I’m making a case for the epistemological primacy, ultimacy, and sole sufficiency of the Triune God of Scripture. Instead, the reply is to TAG – and using primarily Martin’s work. That is not the context. It reminds me of Dr. Gordon Stein arguing against every possible theistic argument for the existence of God – except the one that Dr. Bahnsen argued for. Which happens to be the one he’s arguing against tonight!

In a similar way, Mitch’s argument was directed at God’s *existence*. The argument is not concerning God existence. The argument is concerning God’s self-asserted epistemological primacy – and the inability of any other epistemological claimant to provide knowledge in a warranted way.

He also mentions that I might argue that logical principles are dependent upon God. That is true, to an extent – but not to the extent he claims. I am going to argue that God is not only the ordainer, but creator of the logical laws we use – and that He transcends them, as we mentioned earlier, in Isaiah. The logical laws are the correlative, yet lesser reflection of God’s inherent order. So, while they are necessary in an immediate sense to created beings – they are NOT necessary, in an ultimate sense, to God. God is, as the Scriptures remind us, self-sufficient.

On that note, the rest of his argument concerning God and that claim is irrelevant – and I can move on.

In a similar vein, I certainly raised an eyebrow at this statement: “God is defined as being supernatural. That is to say “Supernatural” is defined as being beyond nature (not natural). This is a negative definition and a broken concept. There is a fallacy committed when it is stated that God is supernatural but has a nature. Something that is beyond nature, may not possess a nature. (Fallacy of the Stolen Concept) I am sure RK will argue that Nature and having a nature are two different concepts. This raises more issues. To argue this, you would be begging the question that we can speak of nature devoid of nature.”

My opponent, I’m afraid, has seriously equivocated here. Badly. To take one sense of a word, and insist that it means the same thing in every context is.. absurd.

There is a sense of the word “nature” which applies to the entirety of the created order, as “natural” entities. Physical. However, I’m sure he also knows that the “nature of” an object, person, or concept can be the “essence” of something. For instance. In the typical Trinitarian formula, God is one being – with three persons. I’m sure he has encountered this definition before, but just to help him, I’ll restate it – God is of one /nature/, with three distinct persons.

I think that this sufficiently points out the equivocation in question. Second, “(t)his raises more issues. To argue this, you would be begging the question that we can speak of nature devoid of nature” – seems an odd assertion. Are you suggesting that there are only material objects, and only they have properties? I was under the impression that you are not a materialist.

As I wrap this up, I sincerely hope that Mitch can rebut with something more suitable to the actual argument I made. When most of your argument is predicated upon equivocation (nature, immaterial), a point that is inapplicable (that I believe that the logic we are constrained by is also somehow binding upon God, and God must therefore be within the same limits, despite His transcendent nature) – it cannot succeed very far. The resolution is that the Triune God of Scripture is the proper grounds for all knowledge. Not that the Triune God of Scripture exists. Additionally, the argument is that any logical system without a warrant to justify its use is incoherent, and therefore unable to make consistent objections. Hopefully, we get back on the rails, and we can address the topics we came to discuss. Thank You.

MitchLeBlanc (Rebuttal):

RK criticizes me for arguing against the existence of God rather than his epistemology. Am I mistaken in understanding that RK’s epistemology IS the existence of God?

RK states that he is not arguing for the existence of God, and as such the point I made about the TAG being insufficient in regard to showing the existence of said deity is assumed. Surely, his utterance of “impossibility of the contrary” is an attempt to establish from his descriptor of my logical inability, to the truth of his claim. That would simply be a non-sequitur.

RK has argued that while I may have been successful in my use of the laws of logic, I am still without warrant. He also stated that he did not see a case showing that his is incorrect. Perhaps he did not see my explanation as to how the laws of logic can operate without God. According to RK, if God does not exist logic fails. If this is true, how can I affirm the use of logic with the negation of God?

Perhaps RK is thinking that I can’t, since it’s simply a self-evident fact that God exists and denying it is foolishness. Well, to him I say, show me the ontological argument you used to affirm this statement. Otherwise, it is bare unsubstantiated assertion.

If RK were perhaps to argue (as he says he is not) that since his worldview “makes sense” therefore God, that would be a form of petitio principii (begging the question):

Yahweh is the source of all knowledge

Knowledge exists.

Therefore Yahweh.

How can RK possibly argue that I did not address the claims of epistemology, when his claim that logic cannot operate independent of God was the largest focus of my statements? I have shown this very claim to be false.

I would point out that RK did not address my argument showing the laws of logic operating with a premise of denial of God’s existence, something that should be impossible for his worldview.

In regards to God as a spirit, the problem RK falls into is simply the inability to define what a spirit is, in positive terms. I have no doubt he can tell me what a spirit is not, but this gets us nowhere.

Rk also stated, with regard to logic as God’s nature that: “while they are necessary in an immediate sense to created beings – they are NOT necessary, in an ultimate sense, to God”. What does this mean? Logical principles are either necessary or contingent. He says God is self-sufficient, well precisely what is the “self” to which he suffices himself? Notice the clear personification of God, yet we seem to have had nothing with substance said to us. The laws are reflections of his order? So God’s nature is logical? We have not even established what that means! As I said, logic is a referrer to entities. So is God’s nature an argument?

RK criticized me, with regard to “speaking of nature devoid of nature”. I’m afraid he misunderstands. I am not taking one sense of the word and stating that it means the same. In fact, I predicted he would say this. The real issue at hand is an ontological one, “what does it mean to be?”, “what does it mean to possess characteristics”, “what does it mean to have a nature?”.

As for the basis of my own knowledge, it should again be noted that since RK’s claim may make sense of logic, it doesn’t follow that logic needs to be made sense of. I will use the remainder of my rebuttal to supplement my position. With that said, my epistemological declaration is perhaps best defined as that of Objectivism. First, I should define axioms:

An axiomatic concept is “is the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. It is implicit in all facts and in all knowledge. It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest” – Ayn Rand

And:

“The first and primary axiomatic concepts are “existence,” “identity” (which is a corollary of “existence”) and “consciousness.” One can study what exists and how consciousness functions; but one cannot analyze (or “prove”) existence as such, or consciousness as such. These are irreducible primaries.”

From these axioms, I establish that of existence, identity and consciousness. In the case of the existence axiom, I can state “existence exists”. In the case of the identity axiom, which is corollary of “existence”, I can say that “to exist is to be something specific, to have identity”. This leads me to my third axiom of “consciousness”, from which I can state that “consciousness is consciousness of something”.

We can, at all times, know with certainty that something must exist to be known, this something must have identity and our knowing reflects the fact that we are conscious.

The issue posed then, is how these axioms apply to metaphysics. We can move in either one of two direction. The primacy of existence or the primacy of consciousness.

The primacy of existence, that is, taking the existence axiom prior to that of consciousness recognizes that existence exists independent of consciousness. That is to say, reality does not conform to the contents of consciousness, things are simply existent regardless of people’s subjective wishes, desires, emotions, etc. And granted that existence exists, that which exists is that which exists (identity axiom). With this primacy, consciousness does not DETERMINE reality, but identifies it.

The primacy of consciousness states that existence is subordinate to consciousness and that things are not the way they are by virtue of the fact of their existence, but rather because of the desires of consciousness. By this primacy, one would be justified in the belief that willing flying cows to rise out of the water will result in flying cows rising out of the water.

We can reject the primacy of consciousness on the basis that it rejects the self-evident truth of the existence principle. But perhaps more importantly, it commits the fallacy of the stolen concept (we are seeing that a lot tonight). It attempts to assert consciousness PRIOR to existence. Insofar as consciousness is the being conscious of something, the notion of consciousness arising prior to existence asserts the concept why denying the precondition of existence. The primacy of consciousness violates the very hierarchy of objective knowledge, we can conclude that any philosophy that is build upon this primacy cannot be consistent with rational knowledge.

Unfortunately, Christianity is one such philosophy. Christianity asserts that some form of consciousness created everything. This simply cannot be true from the outright, as the very consciousness which is purported to have created existence must exist prior to doing any creating. Stating that the Universe was “created” attempts to explain the axiom “existence exists” by asserting something prior, specifically Yahweh, a form of consciousness that created through an act of will. We simply cannot assert anything prior to existence.

As such, any question with attempts to ask “Where did existence come from?” or “How did existence come to be?” will result in answers which commit the fallacy of the stolen concept. We can see that from the very beginning, the Christian worldview has denied the metaphysical primacy of existence.

But how does this relate to the TAG? We must analyze the effect that the assertion has on the law of identity. Christianity states that identity of objects is dependent upon the will or desires of God… identity is dependent on consciousness.

Christianity, then, by definition is a form of metaphysical subjectivism.

Bahnsen (an advocate of the TAG) does not hide this fact, he states:

“the very essence of created reality is its revelational character”

The Christian worldview in regards to reality asserts that reality is a creation of consciousness. Thus, reality cannot be absolute, by definition. What is said to have created reality in the first place is simultaneously the final authority. The ultimate standard for the Christian is then merely the whim of God.

RK might reply that “God is a rational God”, but notes how this begs the question and reduces to a fallacy of pure self-reference.

The standard of reason and logic is the law of identity, but if identity is merely a derivative of consciousness than on which basis can consciousness have identity itself? If reality is a creation, and its creator is consciousness, is consciousness real? If one is to claim that it is, why do we need to point to this God to explain reality in the first place? Merely uttering the instance of a “God created reality” is a stolen concept arising from the belief that God exists.

So when the TAG tells us that the Christian worldview is the only one that can make sense of reality, is this true? A being that is perfect and omniscient surely has no need for reason in the first place. If said being is consciousness, the purpose of said consciousness is to identify the facts of reality… but what need would this God have to “reason”, since it already knows all the facts. It should be evident at this point that the Christian worldview, and the “Primacy of consciousness” has certain epistemological ramifications. When an advocate is asked, “How does God know”, surely we’d hear that “he just does”.

By this token, and insofar as the TAG asserts that the Christian worldview is the very basis for reason it is obviously wrong. The primacy of consciousness destroys reason and knowledge, it does not enable it.

How can the TAG possibly accuse all non-Christian thought as being relative, when the assertion it makes itself is that of metaphysical relativism? The entire worldview is full of ’stolen concepts’ and seeks to defend against what it commits itself.

RazorsKiss questions MitchLeBlanc:

RK: My first question: In Exodus 3:14, we read this: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” – Is this a positive statement concerning the essence, properties, or nature of God?

ML: It doesn’t tell us anything whatsoever, it’s neither positive nor negative.

RK: So, the sentence above: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” – has no content, whatsoever?

ML: Well, “I AM WHO I AM” seems to be cognitively meaningless. PIG IS PIG, DONKEY IS DONKEY, etc… it has not furthered understanding.

RK: Are you aware that this is considered to be the essential name of God in Scripture?

ML: Yes, but a name is not a description.

RK: What does the phrase “I am” mean, when in the following proposition: “I think, therefore I am”?

ML: It denotes existence.

RK: So, when God is saying “I AM” – and repeats it, this is implying self-existence, per Hebrew grammar. Are you aware that names in the Hebrew Old Testament are all intended to have meanings?

ML: I am aware now, thank you.

RK: Were you cognizant, prior to this debate, that the word “nature” has a distinct and historical meaning, when it pertains to theology?

ML: I am cognizant to the colloquial, scientific and philosophical meaning of the word. Perhaps these preclude the theological.

RK: That didn’t answer my question. Were you aware, as a student of the philosophy of religion, or any other capacity, that “nature” was used historically in a theological sense – such as in the definition of the council of Nicea, concerning the Trinity?

ML: I do recall there being an issue of difference between prior and post uses of the term. But I am unsure as to the specifics. (prior being the Arian usage)

RK: What is logic?

ML: As I said in my opening, logic is a referrer to entities.

RK: Do abstract objects exist?

ML: Yes, objects such as numbers exist.

RK: Does the abstract object “logic” exist?

ML: Logic isn’t a thing, it’s a referrer to things.

RK: Why did you just refer to it?

ML: I made a linguistical reference to logic, justified perhaps pragmatically.

RK: Do you agree that referring to “logic”, whether mentally or linguistically – as it is an abstract object – would be a reference to that object?

ML: No, I have not agreed that logic is an object.

RK: “Logic is logically necessary” – Why isn’t that definition circular?

ML: Well, to be logically necessary means that X can be applied in every possible world. You asked if Logic has any properties, so I have offered “necessity” as a property.

RK: What is the definition of an object?

ML: To be as an entity… though I think there is much debate over this very question in the community.

RK: Isn’t the most common definition for “object” – “Something that has properties”?

ML: I am not sure, I do know that Frege struggled in differentiating object from concept, as it seems that “something that has properties” would apply to concepts as well.

RK: Last question: Why are your axioms justified, as they seem to be predicated on the laws of logic; doesn’t this nullify their standing as axiomatic?

ML: Well, an axiom is “a primary fact of reality which cannot be analyzed (reduced into other facts or broken down). Are you asking why my axiom “existence exists” is justified?

RK: If they are not identical to the laws of logic, why are they thus considered justified, as axioms?

ML: Because they are undeniable.

MitchLeBlanc questions RazorsKiss:

ML: What makes the Christian God the sole basis for reason over all of the other Gods?

RK: First, all the other gods do not exist, as they do not possess the requisite properties, as I outlined in my opener. Second, the reason The Triune God of Scripture is that sole basis is because He is the self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, Creator of all things, who is both able to communicate the content of those properties, and has done so throughout history, as recorded in His self-revelatory Scriptures.

ML: All propositions of God assert him as self-existent, self-sufficient, etc… these are not unique to Christianity, what makes Christianity different?

RK: There is no other claimant for the title “God” who asserts the sum total of the properties in question, has demonstrated them throughout history, as well as communicating them to humanity with the sufficiency and perspicuity evident in the Christian Scriptures.

ML: It seems to me that your logical system is hierarchical in nature, with God forming the basis and the chain continuing on thuswards. Does the statement “God exists” logically necessitate that “God has a son”?

RK: No, as the Son is one of the eternally existent persons in the ontological Trinity. As it was famously stated at Nicea – there was never a time when the Son was not, in contraposition to Arius’ novel claim to the contrary.

ML: Since “every time I reason, I borrow from the Christian worldview”, am I to assume that I am accepting God’s existence, Jesus’ virgin birth, the 12 disciples, the betrayal of Jesus, etc as philosophical principles?

RK: Yes, as they are facts in the history of the earth that God created, and you inhabit. They are not dependent on your interpretation of them. When it comes to how you interpret /all/ facts you encounter, the noetic effects of sin will be in operation, and your denial of knowledge (as in justified knowledge) of those facts will follow of necessity.

ML: Why is it that the necessary preconditions for the intelligibly of human experience are contingent upon God being three persons and not four, the virgin birth rather than popping into existence, then 12 disciples rather than 13, etc?

RK: For the first question, because God is the one who created all things we are able to experience, and He has 3 persons. Second, the virgin birth was the means the Father ordained to accomplish Christ’s incarnation, due to the requirements of justice for payment of the penalty for sin, and 12 disciples were analogous to the 12 tribes of national Israel. To answer why they are necessary – because God is the one who determines possibilities, given that all possibilities are occurring in the realm of His exhaustive providence.

ML: That is not precisely the question. If I accept all of these factors are philosophical principles when reasoning, what effect would the 12 disciples being 13 disciples have on my reasoning? Surely, with a change in principle comes a change in reasoning altogether.

RK: Impossibilities have no effect on your reasoning. They do not exist. Dr. Craig would give you a different answer, perhaps – but I’m not Dr. Craig.

ML: So the existence of one more disciple would have no effect on my reasoning. It seems then that the manner in which the events occurred are arbitrary. I will not press this point. Does your knowledge of God arise from the scriptures that you believe he authored?

RK: No, there was no additional disciple in the 12 chosen by Christ, and following him throughout Galilee. Advancing impossibilities as arguments is not coherent. My knowledge of God is two-fold – first, through His Scriptures, which is His informational self-revelation, (despite your assertion that it lacked no coherent content earlier) and the natural revelation of His glory in the created order – which is only sufficient to convict a man, and render him without excuse for his sins of thought and action.

ML: And from your aforementioned sources, you derive the goodness, power, coherency, knowingness, etc of God?

RK: Yes, Scripture states that God is good, that He is Almighty, that He is a God of order, not confusion, and that He knows even the thoughts of men (as well as the entirety of His creation) when He “knows all things”. The Created order attests to these things as well, in a lesser, and more inferential way – but as I said, that is sufficient merely to condemn.

ML: What if God is deceiving you?

RK: “…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, [even] His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior…” (Titus 1:2-3) . God cannot lie.

ML: But God was the author (or inspiration) of those very words. If his intent was to deceive, he has just succeeded. I ask again, what if God is deceiving you?

RK: For if [the] dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith [is] futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. ~ 1 Cor 15:9

ML: Again, all scripture and proposed action of God are immediately discounted if the motivation in fact was to deceive. Can you show that God is not deceiving you in all your knowledge of him?

RK: If God intended to deceive, He would not be God. He would be Satan. Therefore, you would likely have to use the TANS argument. A God of that character is not God at all, and therefore, yet again, another impossible (redefinition) advanced as an argument. If we could win by redefining things, debates would be fairly short affairs 🙂

ML: “If God intended to deceive, He would not be God. He would be Satan.” – Is this statement not based off of information expedited to you from the same deity in question?

RK: A God who is evil instead of good, who is a liar rather than the truth, is mutable rather than immutable, and imperfect rather than perfect, unjust rather than just… we could go on. Your questions all seem to entail redefinitions. “if God had an impossible definition for any being claiming to be the God you believe in, or any god at all, could he do _X_”. To claim that the antithesis of the self-existent and omnipotent God that I believe in is possible – seems to be.. a stretch.

ML: I cannot help but feel you are being evasive at this point. Every bit of the knowledge of God you have, comes from his proposed self-revelation. If God’s intent was surely to deceive you, are you saying he could not? Would you know? Your argument is as follows: God does not deceive. Proposed being X deceives. Therefore X is not God. You are begging the question RK.

RK: Sir, I’m not going to change my answer because you continue to ask it. “God” entails the properties already outlined. If a being does not conform to those properties, as I answered in response to your very first question – that is no god at all. I’m not going to contradict myself so that you can continue your argument. Further, I’ve stated, multiple times, that God is axiomatic to all human reasoning. You’re asking me, on the basis of your presupposition, to overthrow everything I’ve said thus far, to answer a question the way you prefer.

ML: I forego the remainder of my questions to accelerate our brief conclusions and allow for the patient audience to submit questions of their own.

MitchLeBlanc (Conclusion):

In conclusion, I must say that I am disappointed that my arguments given in my introduction were not addressed. Insofar as it was proposed that if God did not exist, logic would fail. I have clearly shown that this is not the case. I am also disappointed that it was constantly asserted that I have no basis for a logical system, but never shown that I have no basis.

If logic truly is so dependent on God, why was my argument which showed the contrary not addressed? Furthermore, I must ask which reasons we have heard tonight that RK’s epistemological system should be preferred over my own. In that respect, on which basis has RK shown that the principles of logic even require justification! Creating questions for the sole purpose of answering them, isn’t an award winning tactic.

Lastly, with regards to the QandA. I proposed the question, “What if God is deceiving you?” Rk’s response that if this was the case, said being would not be God. This strikes me as very similar to the No True Scotsman fallacy. A man sits down and reads the newspaper, where it is said that a man murdered several people and he is believed to be Scottish. The man then replies, “No Scotsman would do that!” The next day, when he reads that it was indeed a Scotsman, he states… “well, no TRUE Scotsman would do that”.

I simply do not understand how it is possible to state, with certainty, that God does not (or cannot) deceive you, when such a statement is based off of only what God himself has revealed to you. RK repeatedly stated that a God who lies simply would not be God… the proper explanation perhaps is that “The God who lies would not meet my criteria for God, and my criteria is correct.” The very last point is curious, as should God indeed be deceptive, said criteria would falter immediately.

As I have said, I am saddened that several points of good discussion were dismissed haphazardly, but I am grateful to have had the chance to discuss this issue with RK.

Thank you for listening patiently.

RazorsKiss (Conclusion):

Along with Mitch, I’m disappointed that the arguments presented were not addressed. Also along with Mitch, I’m disappointed that it was mine that were unaddressed! When I rebutted Mitch, I pointed out that his conception of the necessity of created logic applying to God was at fault for the failure of his argument.

I said: “while they are necessary in an immediate sense to created beings – they are NOT necessary, in an ultimate sense, to God. God is, as the Scriptures remind us, self-sufficient.”

This seems to have been missed in the subsequent discussion, and as stated, was why I did not address his arguments along that line further. They were not against my position, but against the position he claimed I held.

I’d also like to point out that a large bulk of Mitch’s arguments rested on redefinition. I am the Christian, taking the affirmative. While he’s quite capable of considering God as other than He is – and of contemplating logical impossibilities – they are just that. Impossibilities.

When I take the affirmative, I bear the burden of definition. When Mitch rested the majority of his case on redefinition – of the terms for God, of the words I use to describe Him, and takes them out of both the historical and linguistic context which I can’t help but think he is aware of, given his field of study, it seems to indicate that he is indenting to conduct the debate on the grounds of redefinition. Nature DOES, and HAS applied to the essence and properties of the being of God. Immaterial, a word I did not use, was constructed as a straw man against my position.

Further, he also tried to build his case on another word I did not use – supernatural. I understand that he didn’t know what my opening statement was going to be – but using the terms in that way – then ignoring their context on the basis of his own (and I consider to be strange) definitions leaves me scratching my head.

We’ve heard from Mitch that I never made a case against his position. That is only partially true. As the affirmative, my primary places to “counter-attack” are in the rebuttals, and in the cross-ex. Since he did not give a positive statement of his position until the rebuttal, my only chance to reply, save right here, was in the cross-ex. A look at the cross-examination period, and the brevity of his answers leaves it clear to me that he intended to answer as little as possible. While that is his prerogative, stating that I didn’t argue sufficiently – when he knows that presuppositionalism is an indirect system, is a bit misleading.

So, I’m going to take this opportunity to expand my thoughts from the cross-ex. As I was trying to get Mitch to admit, his system is built on a presupposed absolutist logic. This absoluteness of logic itself is not stated in the axioms – it is effectively hidden beneath the 3 axioms he professes. “Existence exists”, for instance, while correlative to the law of identity, is not identical to it. To be identical, it would have to be… more similar to God’s statement in Exodus – I am that I am.

As he expresses it, in accordance with Rand, the reality is that two *distinct* concepts are presented. “Existence”, which is an abstract, and what it does – “exists”. Existence, therefore, has the property of existing. Yet another abstract – which *exists*. Further, saying that “to exist is to be something specific, to have identity” – you are once again not restating a law of logic. You are stating that to exist, you must have identity. This is, again, correlative, but not identical.

So, we have a system with axioms which use laws that require their existence. We still haven’t had a satisfying answer as to, as I asked him, why logic isn’t an abstract logic – but these other concepts are – like existence – and why they are justified. Further, they are based in nothing, whatsoever, which grants them justification. He can claim they are axioms – but objectivism has been widely criticized, as Mitch attempted to do concerning my position, for being utterly arbitrary. What objectivism assumes is that man’s existence, identity, and consciousness are autonomous, and “objective”. What is being objected to, as I stated in my opener, is a man standing with his feet firmly planted in midair, and claiming to be the standard for his own thinking.

While I applaud him for having the debate, I would have wished that he had redirected his argument to my own, that it would not have been so dependent on redefinitions, and that we could have had a more fruitful exchange in cross-examination. I was more than willing to be forthcoming. I wish he would have done me the courtesy as well. I thank you all for watching, I thank Mitch for his patience, and I thank our moderators for this evening’s debate.

Question and Answer:

EoZ: (the replacement moderator) Dear RK, “In your opening dialouge, you spoke of a limited ability to have knowledge, for those who do not have an epistimological foundation such as yourself. However, you later conceded “I see no possible way for that assertion to be justified.” in reference to an unbeliever viewing him or herself as an ultimate basis for epistimology. Could your own, conceded, limited perception, be a contributing factor, leading you to a falsely constructed conclusion, convoluted and serving as confirmation bias insofar as as a self-reassuring mechanism by which you preclude against your view being simply your belief or understanding of the facts, but as some fact, regardless of belief?” – VTS

RK: If i understand the question correctly, it’s asking if I could be biasing myself, having no independent source at all, just my own opinion.
EoZ: VTS, is his understanding correct?
VTS: in part, yes.
RK: As far as that goes… the Christian has as his basis Scripture. This is not simply standing alone – but has the “sensus divinitatus”, as Calvin terms it, also in operation due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer.
EoZ: Would you like to clarify so he understands the whole complete question, or is that sufficient?
VTS: Basically, is the “failure to see” real? Is it possible your perspective is self-serving, thus bringing you to a conclusion that is (by extension) clouded by personal bias…
VTS: does that clarify?
RK: As the Spirit is also, per Scripture, the author of the revelation, it’s the equivalent of having the author of the book standing over your shoulder, and correcting your faulty understandings, and continually adjusting your noetic “issues” as He also works to sanctify you in obedience to that revealed Word.
EoZ: Okay, to move things along. VTS, does that sufficiently answer your question or do you have more?
RK: Well, if we’re all deluded, as Paul says, we’re “men most to be pitied”. As I said, we have the Author of that revelation as our guide to the understanding of it. That is one of the reasons that I find in my experience, there tends to be a significant problem with the understanding of Scriptural principles by non-Christians. It’s not that I’m saying we’re “smarter” – by any stretch of the imagination – if you understand my theology, that’s well-nigh impossible.
vtsquire: no, I dont think that sufficiently answered my question.
RK: For a conceivable non-truth of the Christian worldview – Paul says we are “most to be pitied”. So, if you’re right, it stinks to be us. How’s that?
EoZ: VTS, so would you like to ask additional questions to further the topic, or
VTS: to put my point most bluntly, are you making a claim to knowledge, or making a claim to belief that you have knowledge?
RK: I am making a claim that I have mediate knowledge from the only possible source that is justifiable. ie: It’s not me, it’s God in me, as Scripture says.
RK: In my opener I went out of my way to point out that Christians, if they are to act like Christians, have as much claim to epistemological autonomy as a chair. God is who works in me, and through me. It’s never due to man. (Which is probably as opposite to objectivism as possible, but there ya go.)
VTS: okay, that’s a sufficient answer to me

EoZ: Okay, very good. Now, just to be fair to poor Mitch, I’m asking my question to him, then RK.

EoZ: Mitch, how could RK prove his position to you as the affirmative? How do you believe he did not do so here?
RK: Yeah! 🙂
ML: Well the problem with the position it is that it is not an argument. It’s simply a bare assertion. He could begin to prove his position to me by addressing the argument I presented which showed that logic presupposing the Christian worldview is false. I also wouldn’t mind hearing that Ontological argument which must be the basis for RK’s position (though not stated, I am sure it is there) that God’s existence is logically necessary…
EoZ: Alright, that works.

EoZ: And we got another question to Mitch from our very own VTS.
EoZ: “I have the same essential question to Mitch. They both conceded “I fail to see ________” Mitch, is it possible that this concession contains within it an admission that your position may be based on an inability on your part to be flexible in your thinking, thus leading you your conclusion, that may thereby be possibly false?” – VTS
RK: I’d like to respond to Mitch’s points afterwards, but I’ll let him get on to bed 🙂
EoZ: RK, I would let you normally, but time is VERY short.
RK: That’s fine – I have a blog 🙂
ML: My epistemology doesn’t exclude God outright, in many ways it remains completely agnostic until establishing axioms. The axioms which are undenaible are established, and then we work from there. It is possible that there is something that I’m missing from RK’s statements, but it would not be to my denial of God from the outright. In that respect, I am not similar to a materialist.

EmpireOfZombies: Okay, asking mine, and that’s it.

EoZ: Part 1. is God the ultimate standard for morality?
RK: Yes.
EoZ: Yay! Simple answer.
RK: Simple question 🙂
EoZ: Now, I’m going to post two quotes by you.
EoZ:: RazorsKiss If God intended to deceive, He would not be God. He would be Satan. Therefore, you would likely have to use the TANS argument. A God of that character is no God of all, and therefore, yet again, another impossible (redefinition) advanced as an argument. If we could win by redefining things, debates would be fairly short affairs 2:23 .. *not God at all
RazorsKiss A God who is evil instead of good, who is a liar rather than the truth, is mutable rather than immutable, and imperfect rather than perfect, unjust rather than just… we could go on. Your questions all seem to entail redefinitions. “if God had an impossible definition for any being claiming to be the God you believe in, or any god at all, could he do _X_”. To claim that the antithesis of the self-existent and omnipotent God that I believe in is possible – seems to be.. a stretch. 2:28 .. If there was a so-called “god” who intended to deceive – that being would not be any god at all.
RK: Okay.
EoZ: My questions are, if God intended to deceive, from what standard would you contrive that he is not God if your standard IS God? IF God deceives, from what standard do you derive lying as wrong for God? If it is God, and he lies, why is it wrong? What makes lying immoral if God were to do it? To me, this seems as if you are asserting a personal standard.
RK: That was precisely why I said that such questions are impossibilities, as they attempt to redefine a being that is self-existent, self-sufficient, immutable, unchanging, and etc. Such a thing is an impossibility. The point that is missed is that my relationship with God is not merely intellectual. It is personal. I know God, in my creaturely way, as Persons. I communicate, I am acted upon, and act on behalf of. In short, the question seeks to divorce God’s attributes, and to redefine God as a different sort of being – one which I do not know, do not communicate with, and do not have relation to.
RK: That should wrap it up, correct?
EoZ: Almost. I’m responding.
RK: Mitch, I appreciate the debate. Hopefully we can arrange logistics better for the next one 🙂
ML: Yes, a much shorter format is needed

EoZ: if God has freewill, why are hypotheticals not possible? Free will would denote all things are possible for God.

RK: Because there is a lack of distinction made between creation/creator, their disparate natures, and the relationship between them. God is free in that He does whatever He wills. Whatever God wills, on the transcendent level, is the determiner for what is possible – on the created level. It’s like trying to ask why a child can’t make his parent do whatever they think is possible. What the child is capable of doing do is whatever is possible for the child – but in this case, the parent can, and has, determined all possible events, whatsoever, that will come to pass. So there isn’t any frame of reference, aside from God’s self-description, to tell us this. If His word is accurate, there are no free atoms, there is no free energy – there is only God’s determination of all causal events.

EoZ: Alright, to the debaters, good job.
EoZ: Thanks for debating.
EoZ: To the audience, thank you.
.RK: Yes, thanks!
ML: Thanks….
RK: Even though you’re all asleep..
ML: (I am about to collapse)
RK: Me too. Thanks for the debate, bro. Now get to bed 🙂
ML: thanks
ML: goodnight
RK: Seeya, and thanks again.
EoZ: Night guys.

(I will likely add in some commentary soonish, so check back)

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