LECTURE 4: The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God. By
Simply, the argument for Godís existence.
Acts 2:36: the Jesus they crucified is made both Lord and Christ. Acts
17:31: there is proof that God will judge all men by the man Jesus
We donít want to present the probability of the existence of God. We
want to present the absolute certainty of Christís resurrection and
coming judgment, the way Paul did. There is lots of good evidence for
Christianity in other apologetic methodologies, but they are not
conclusive. We want to present an objective reality of the truth of the
Christian faith. Others cannot provide an absolute objective truth.
Though the four other apologetic methodologies -- Classical,
Evidentailist, Reformed (Epistemology), and Clarkian -- have some
helpful points, they all start with an autonomous principle, making
manís mind the measure of truth. The mindset that doesnít reason
directly from Christ is foolishness.
Our goal is to be reasoning from scripture, not simply reading scripture
to unbelievers. Apologetics can be done with the Bible open or closed;
what is essential is to reason from a Christian framework. There is a
deep antithesis between the Christian and non-Christian world view.
Naturalism or empiricism says all knowledge comes through the senses,
therefore you cannot receive divine revelation. This is opposite to
all Christian teaching. We see here the war of principles, or
On one hand you say you have to have an absolute proof. Then you say
there is absolutely no common ground. There has to be some common
ground in order for us to communicate profitably. There must be some
agreement. Where would we begin with the unbeliever if there was no
common ground. Wouldnít it then be simply our dogmatic stand, versus
their dogmatic stand? Yes, this is ultimately what it comes down to and
there nothing wrong with that. Many people understand
presuppositionalism to offer an external criticism, that is, an argument
from within its own system. But this is not a valid way to dismiss
presuppositionalism. If we base the truth of Godís word on arguments
directly from Godís word, we are engaged in circular reasoning. Is this
a valid criticism of presuppositionalism? No, not anymore than it is of
other systems which must necessarily defend themselves in terms of some
ultimate standard. When it comes to ultimate authority there is no way
to escape circular reasoning. So we ultimately defend out system by
saying all alternative systems of thinking are impossible (i.e.,
irrational, inconsistent, unlivable).
How do you know the truth of any claim? You can go on giving reasons.
But finally you must say something like ďI believe God gave us reliable
sense-perception and that God gave the ability to count meaningfully.Ē
So the unbeliever may say you believe in an ultimate authority and you
believe in circular reasoning based on the revelation of God, the bible.
However, all final authorities are self-attesting. They must appeal to
themselves to justify the self-attesting authority. We all must appeal
to a final authority which has these properties. So we do not use
direct appeals to defend Christianity (i.e., traditional apologetic
arguments). Rather than appealing to common ground, we will appeal the
preconditions of human experience. The precondition for human
experience, math, science, etc. is the Christian worldview. It is based
on the self-attesting law-Word of God which defines the nature of God
and His care and control over the world and men.
Proverbs 26:5,6 This is the strategy to deal with the situation of
unbelief and folly. The writer gives us a method of dealing with the
unbeliever. As a strategy, we are not to accept the unbelieverís
foolish presuppositions as a basis for discussion, yet we are for
argumentís sake to expose the folly of their system of thought.
Answer according to his folly: first understand the worldview of the
unbeliever. In practical apologetics, you must ask questions which will
reveal the unbelievers worldview, then use that to demonstrate the
arbitrariness and inconsistency of their worldview. Ultimately, you
show their inability to explain human existence. For example, Joseph
Smith claims to be a prophet of God and his writings are in part the
basis of the Mormon Church. To answer the Mormon one might claim for
the sake of Argument, ďWell, I am a prophet of God and God has told me
that Joseph Smith was a false prophet.Ē You have demonstrated the
arbitrariness of the Mormonís position. If you hold philosophical
system which espouses a contradiction you can then espouse everything;
that system has rejected logic and embraced irrationality.
Empiricists say all knowledge comes through the medium of sense
experience. Only things which are empirically verifiable are true. One
problem raised against empiricism is that we do not have all knowledge
or experience, so we donít know whether there may be a type of
experience or knowledge which is yet to be discovered. At best
empiricists can say all current knowledge is from sense experience.
Can we ever test a theory such as empiricism as true, or could we ever
sense a theory such as empiricism? If all knowledge is from sense
experience, do you know about empiricism through sense experience? See
how this theory of knowledge destroys itself? All worldviews in
opposition to Christianity are self-defeating.
Look within unbelieving worldviews for the inability to account for
human experience: science, math, logic, morality. They cannot account
for science. Science presupposes the basic reliability of sense
experience, the uniformity of nature, that our thoughts and the world
are in correspondence, that there are consistent laws, that inductive
principles are valid. So ask, why use inductive logic? The unbeliever
may answer that nature is uniform, implying they are allowed to use
induction because they know nature is uniform. He is saying I have
observed the past, past futures, and the present therefore we expect the
future will be the same. There is a problem with this line of
argumentation. How is the unbelieverís use of induction justified? By
arguing that the past is the same as the present. Thus he is using
induction to prove induction.
Now that weíve shown the folly of empiricism, we are obligated to show
the true alternative. We must prove that on the basis of Godís word
these things are true. The unbeliever will say, youíre appealing to the
Bible, we donít accept the Bible. But he cannot account for
experience so he has no basis upon which to criticize us. We canít
give proof the unbeliever will accept, but we must offer biblical
persuasions. We have shown that the Christian worldview provides the
necessary preconditions for human experience. Van Til says the truth
of Christianity is grounded in the impossibility is the contrary. This
in nuclear strength apologetics. We show with certainty that the
Christian faith is true. The only reason an unbeliever can reason is
by accepting the principles which are unique to Christianity.
Note: Kyper said apologetics was unnecessary; Warfield said
apologetics is necessary but he based it on reason.
TANG (transcendental argument for the non-existence of God) proposed by
famous atheist Michael Martin
Supposedly a transcendental argument which proves the opposite of
Christianity. Michael Martin says the precondition of science is that
there is a consistent law order. But Christianity says that God gets
involved in the creation changing the laws (miracles). He says
rational discussion depends on consistent laws of reasoning. But God
might change the laws of logic. He says human dignity depends on a
consistent law-standard. But God could change his rules of morality.
Therefore, to account for human experience, the Christian God must not
exist. Answer: Mr. Martin should go to Sunday school and learn about
the nature of God: his righteousness, his miracles, his providence.
Godís nature is unchanging and his laws of morality do not change
anymore than his character changes. The Christian view of miracles is
not that God would do a random miracle in the mist of a scientific
experiment. He does have super works of providence. God normally
works based on the ordinary laws of the world. Miracles always have a
reason in the redemptive plan. They prove to Godís people that they are
his appointed instruments for service.