• Archimedes of Syracuse (1999). Archimedes of Syracuse. The MacTutor History of Mathematics.
Monday, October 24, 2016
The Light, The Foundation, and the Necessary Upoluposis: God (part I)
In your light do we see light (Psalm 36:9)
Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth: δῶς μοι πᾶ στῶ καὶ τὰν γᾶν κινάσω (Archimedes of Syracuse: Greek mathematician).
According to Pappus, Archimedes exclaimed in relation to the ability of the lever: "Give to me a place where I may stand and I will move the earth." He only needed a place to set the lever's fulcrum and it would be possible to move anything, including the earth. And this is the case when it comes to knowledge— including mathematics and science. The Archimedean locus of reference is an ontological truth required to rest one’s knowledge (epistemological) pursuits. What is needed is a first principle that has the ontological endowment to not only ground knowledge, but to account for it and its preconditions.
The Fall and Its Epistemic Effect
The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery. … The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
The fall of man recorded in Genesis plunged men into a state of moral corruption, depravity, and hopelessness. The noetic effects of sin affected man’s thinking which resulted in futility of mind and darkness of heart (Ephesians 4:17-18; Romans 1). Because of this futile mindset, men attempt to build their knowledge enterprise without an ontological ground that has the capacity to carry the required epistemic load. The loss of the immovable point of reference, in principle, leaves the ungodly devoid of a resource necessary to construct the knowledge enterprise. Without God, one cannot hoist the necessary a priori operation features of knowledge.
God is the Necessary Upoluposis
God … knows all things (1 John 3:20).
All things are properly said to be … supernaturally through infinite power (as from the terminus a quo and by the way of creation).
The argument for Christianity must therefore be that of presupposition. With Augustine it must be maintained that God’s revelation is the sun from which all other light derives. The best, the only, the absolutely certain proof of the truth of Christianity is that unless its truth be presupposed there is no proof of anything. Christianity is proved as being the very foundation of the idea of proof itself.
The Christian worldview supplies the fixed ontic platform as the sufficient truth condition that can justify induction, immutable universals, and the uniformity of the physical world. But materialistic atheism lacks such a fixed ontic platform and necessary truth condition. Consequently, it fails to provide the sufficient ground required to justify science and the investigation of the natural world. The true and living God subsists and accounts for the intricate and distinct interconnection of the particulars in the united cosmos. That is the reason many theologians have mused, “I believe in order that I may understand.” Van Til uses this illustration:
We cannot prove the existence of the beams underneath the floor if by proof you mean that they must be ascertainable in a way that we can see the chairs and the tables of the room. But the very idea of the floor as a support for the tables and chairs requires the idea of beams underneath. But there would be no floor if no beams were underneath. Thus there is absolute certain proof for the existence of God... Even non-Christians presuppose its truth while they verbally reject it. They need to presuppose the truth of Christianity to account for their own accomplishments.
Atheism is impossible. When anyone attempts to escape the truth that God exists, he falls in a trap he cannot escape. This point is well made in Van Til’s fantastic illustration of a man made of water, who is trying to climb out of the watery ocean by means of a ladder made of water. He cannot get out of the water for he has nothing to stand on. Without God, one cannot make sense of anything. The atheist has nothing to stand on (an ontic Archimedean locus of reference) and he lacks a rational apparatus to scale; an epistemic ladder that would allow him to view reality with clarity.
Only divine revelation has the epistemic authority to “trump” our natural intuitions about what is metaphysically possible and what is not.
Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.
Since God is the truth condition who has the ontological heft to carry the knowledge freight (knowledge and all the multitudinous tacit conditions it requires) the fear of the Lord paves the way for understanding epistemic issues and rights. The Lord is our ultimate commitment and the explanation of the method is governed by the assurance the God lives and is revealed by Christ. Yes, human depravity has made humanity’s autonomous reason incapable of anchoring its knowledge claims to anything immutable and objectively true. One needs God. God is the objective being with immutability and universal reach as attributes.
Bible is God’s Word
The conception of God is necessary for the intelligible interpretation of any fact.
God’s revelation of Himself in the 66 books of the Bible is the only valid escape from the skepticism that would otherwise logically result from the necessary, interdependence of metaphysics with epistemology. God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture provides not only ultimate epistemic grounding, but also gives the necessary metaphysical content for the foundation of all of man’s intellectual and spiritual pursuits.
Hundreds of actual incidents of prophetic fulfillment support the claim that the Bible is the Word of God (Isaiah 41:22-27; 42:8-9;44:7-8,24-28; 45:18-21; 46:10-11; 48:3-7). Only God has all the necessary attributes that give Him the infallible ability to forecast the future and to bring His forecasts to fulfillment. Christ Himself fulfilled over three hundred distinct Old Testament predictions including: His virgin birth in Bethlehem (Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:3), His ministry as the Son of God in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-10), His entrance in Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9), His crucifixion (Psalm 22:16; Isaiah 53), and hundreds of additional predictions that were fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Beyond the concrete proof that fulfilled prophecy provides is the truth that all proof—proof of anything—requires God. It is more than difficult to prove anything, apart from Christian presuppositions, including the notion that there is a material world. Non-theists must attempt to prove such obvious truths apart from Christian presuppositions in order to make their case, but this leaves them without the required immutable universals. This is a problem that continuously appears when one attempts to prove anything without the necessary universal operational features of reason that only Christian theism provides. Such atheistic pursuits are not merely exceedingly difficult, but impossible within atheistic materialism.
· The Bible is the Word of God.
· It is impossible to prove that it is not the Word of God.
· There is proof that God revealed Himself in the Bible.
· Therefore, the Bible is the Word of God.
God and His revealed word supply men their only possible ground with the explanatory clout needed to account for human experience. The ontological barrenness of atheistic materialism is just one reason the Christian should never grant the natural man the right to determine the criteria for testing truth claims— atheistic materialism lacks an ontology with even a shard of explanatory power. Thus the Christian is to press the atheistic materialist’s failing and then drive him to the cross through the holy chastisements of the Law of God. God in Christ, through the power of the cross and resurrection, is the answer for everything men need.
1. Pappus of Alexandria, Collection, Book VIII, Google Books.
2. Westminster Shorter Catechism: Answers 17-18.
3. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, P & R.
4. Cornelius Van Til: The Defense of the Faith, P & R.
6. James Anderson: Paradox in Christian Theology. Paternoster.
7. Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John Tractate XXIX on John 7:14-18, 6. A Select Library of the Nicene And Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church Volume VII by St. Augustine, chapter VII (1888) trans. Philip Schaff.
8. Greg Bahnsen: Van Til’s Apologetic, P & R.
9. Steve Hays: Triablogue 6/30/20.
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