In the sixth chapter the focus is on the practical antithesis between the worldviews discussed up to this point. As was the case in previous posts, I’m going to be documenting notes from the chapter that I think are worthy of attention.Continue reading
The fifth chapter of the book focuses on comparing and contrasting various worldviews outside of the Biblical worldview of Scripture. The purpose for doing this is to demonstrate different characteristics that some of the more popular worldviews hold to and how they contrast to the Christian one.
There are two central tenets that are the focus of this chapter:
- Examples of several worldview options.
- The presuppositional cores sustaining those worldviews
The author expounds that Hinduism is a family of merged religions arising out of a thoroughly pagan backdrop. One source describes Hinduism as, “Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder.” Another key attribute of this worldview is the belief in millions of deities that are typically derived from objects found in nature. Hinduism aligns well with the New Age movement and mysticism and views all reality as relative since Hinduism believes that reality is an illusion.
Behaviorism is school of psychological thought developed by B.F. Skinner. The key concept in this school of thought that all human behavior can be attributed to the concept of “operant conditioning”. This basically says that human behavior is the result of of response to pure environmental factors such as our experiences and our senses. The material world is the ultimate endgame and all our motivations revolve around getting the most fulfillment from the material world. Since man is simply the result of his conditioned environment, there is no responsibility for actions taken since there is no moral code attached to this system of thought.
The next world view is the infamous worldview of Marxism. Marxism is an atheistic, socio-political belief system that teaches the material world is the ultimate reality and that religion is an illusion. The author quotes the American Heritage Dictionary’s definition of dialectical materialism on which Marxism is based as,
“The Marxian interpretation of reality that views matter as the sole subject of change and all change as the product of a constant conflict between opposites arising from the internal contradictions inherent in all events, ideas, and movements.”
Adam Schaff summarizes the maxim of Marxism as, “Mans is a product of society…it is society that makes him what he is.”
The last worldview system that the author examines in this chapter is existentialism. Existentialism is concerned above all else with freedom and self-expression. This system essentially boils down to feeling over thought, experience over logic, and the like. The author leaves some valuable quotes:
- “To kill God is to become god oneself: it is to realize on this earth the eternal life of which the gospel speaks.” –Albert Camus
- “If God exists man cannot be free. But man is free, therefore God cannot exist. Since God does not exist all things are morally permissible.” –Jean Paul-Satre
The author is trying to get the Christian apologist to think through the foundational beliefs of these various systems to understand how they oppose Christianity and how they are internally inconsistent.
Bahnsen, Greg, “Prolegomena To Apologetics“, https://www.cmfnow.com/articles/PA002.htm
Ravi, N.S.R.K, “Hinduism“, https://www.namb.net/apologetics-blog/hinduism/
The fourth chapter of the book focuses on the different components that comprise a worldview. They are the building blocks of a worldview and without any one of them you can not have a complete worldview and this is why it’s so important to define each one and to expand upon each level to under the questions that they need to answer.
Another key factor that each of these worldview building blocks serve to show how utterly non-sensical the Atheist worldview is in that since it cannot accept order in the Universe and therefore is left to attribute every event to chance he cannot justify in what he observes.
The study on what is the nature of reality. Beyond the physical as in laws of logic & science.
Metaphysics seeks to address three core questions:
- What does it mean to exist?
- What is the nature of man? Is he free? Good? An animal?
- What is the nature of the universe? Is it objectively real? Or is it simply appearance?
Metaphysicians seek to understand the world as a whole.
What Metaphysicians study is actually Christian theology in secular dress.
God is the ultimate ground of all reality. – Gen 1:1, Exodus 20:11, Neh 9:6, Rev 4:11
The study of the nature and limits of human knowledge.
Epistemological inquiry focuses on four class of questions:
- What is the nature of truth & objectivity?
- What is the nature of belief and of knowledge? What are their relationships? Can we know and yet not believe?
- What are the standards that justify belief?
- What are the proper procedures for science & discovery? How can they be trusted?
The unbeliever will not be able to rationally to account for the order of the universe which he experiences, since he is committed to the fate of chance.
There is no way to account for reason in the non-Christian system.
Studies right & wrong attitudes, judgments, and actions, as well as moral responsibility and obligation.
Focuses on four main areas of concern:
- What is the nature of good and evil?
- What are the standards for ethical evaluation?
- What about guilt and personal peace?
- How do we attain or produce moral character?
For the non-Christian there is no sure basis for ethics.
The chapter can be best summed up in this Atheist Creed crafted by Christian scholar Steve Kumar:
There is no God.
There is no objective Truth.
There is no ground for Reason.
There are no absolute Morals.
There is no ultimate Value.
There is no ultimate Meaning.
There is no eternal Hope.
Bahnsen, Greg, “The Concept and Importance of Canonicity”
Butler, Michael R., “A Truly Reformed Epistemology”
The third part of the series has to do with as the title suggests, defining worldviews. The actual definition for what a worldview is plays a critical role in understanding the presuppositions one brings to the table for interpreting reality, knowledge, and ethics.
One of the reoccurring themes you will notice through this blog series is Bahnsen’s emphasis on the myth of neutrality. This becomes even more apparent when defining what a worldview actually is. In each of the major domains of a worldview you must assert truth’s in each area and this itself removes the option of neutrality. An assertion has only a binary conclusion; true or false.
Bahnsen defines a worldview as:
“A worldview is a network of presuppositions(which are not verified by the procedures of natural science) regarding reality(metaphysics), knowing(epistemology), and conduct(ethics) in terms of which every element of human experience is related and interpreted.”
Another quote worth providing is viewing the Christian faith as a complex system:
“We must recognize that the Christian faith is a complex system of mutually-supported, interwined beliefs filling out a broader interdependent worldview.”
Like in Systems Engineering each component affects the overall health of the whole system, so each element of a worldview affects that worldview as a whole. Each subcomponent functions as a link in the chain and if one link is inconsistent with the others the system will break down. The Christian faith is no different, which is why the Bible must be the only rule for faith, life, and apologetics, otherwise Christianity will self-destruct on the sand of human autonomy.
Bahnsen, Greg, “Worshipping the Creature Rather Than the Creator”
Hurd, Wesley, “Me and my Worldview”
Nickel, James, “Mathematics: Is God Silent?”
Stump, James, “Science, Metaphysics, and Worldviews”
The second part of the series has to do with taking down philosophical fortresses. Although we have not covered chapter 3 on worldviews you may consider this prep work as a number of principles will nicely lead into the next series.
Try to understand why the unbelieving mind is hostile to the Christian worldview; understand why no one can be neutral and still remain philosophically consistent; what is meant by the “noetic” effects of sin.
The main points to be observed from this chapter are:
- Factually we must recognize that the unbeliever is not neutral.
- Morally, we must understand that the believer should not be neutral.
- Any claim to neturality is a pretense, and it is philosophically impossible.
- “Noetic” is derived from the Greek word, nous, which means “mind”.
- This is one aspect of the doctrine of “total depravity”, which declares that the fall reaches deep down into a man’s very being, even to his mind, and his reasoning faculties.
- The world and the universe do not operate randomly by blind chance or under their own inherent power.
- In fact, you will even give account for every “idle word” that you speak (Matt 12:36).
- None of your words is neutral; each one is subject to God’s evaluative judgement.
- We are not saying unbelievers “know nothing.” We are saying that they do not know anything “truly,” because they do not recognize the most fundamental reality: All facts are God-created facts, not brute facts.
Flashing, Sarah J., “The Myth of Secular Neutrality: Unbiased Bioethics?”
Kruger, Michael J., “The Sufficiency of Scripture in Apologetics”
Oliphant, Scott, “The Noetic Effects of Sin”
Woodward, Thomas E., “Staring Down Darwinism: A Book Review”
As Van Til goes on to say, if one does not begin with some such general truths (universals) with which to understand the particular observations in one’s experience, those factual particulars would be unrelated and uninterpretable -i.e., “brute”. In a chance universe, all particular facts would be random, have no classifiable identity, bear no predetermined order or relation and thus be unintelligible to man’s mind.
I recently ran across what I consider a good use case for applying this principle of Christian apologetic’s; On the Reformed Theology G+ forum someone posted the following question: Do you accept the idea of objective morality? If so, what is your criteria for morality that isn’t subjective (open to interpretation)?
Christianity asserts that it is the law of God as revealed in the Bible. This is not a subjective response as it’s an assertion of worldview and is not bound in a single subject or a few peoples opinion. We can also not treat the question of morality as say the shooting average of Lebron James. The rules of interpretation of shooting averages facts do not conflict with opposing worldviews, but of a basic understanding of mathematics.
When we interpret the facts of morality we are dealing with transcendence in that the object is not bound by space or time. For the non-theist that believes everything is essentially ‘matter in motion’ this is antithetical to his presuppositions for which he interprets reality.
So it’s not simply a matter of providing an argument that isn’t open to interpretation, but comes down to how one interprets the facts for which they are observing. And the method of interpretation is driven by their presuppositions.
I recently ran across a post browsing through my “Calvinism” sparks links in Google + and ran across this excerpt that was reply by a person, named David.
I am choosing to address your comment, not because I strive to change your mind, but for the sake of other readers who have ears to hear.
If there is a set of doctrines that are not supported by Scripture, particularly in how to inherit eternal life, then such a belief system is a false gospel. Besides this, if this false gospel describes a god (the one we are supposed to be seeking and obeying) with attributes that are not the attributes that Scripture describes of Him, then the belief system is doubly false. Such a religious system would have to be deemed a cult.
You are saying (at my comment page –8/18/11) that Calvinism matches “the historic views of the church at large the past two thousand years.” This is an unimpressive claim when it was Calvinism which, throughout much of Europe, merely got its way like Catholicism did, through the persecution of those who would not adhere to their enforced state religion. Augustine, whom Calvin quoted extensively, was a very influential Catholic who believed that Tradition and the Church were as authoritative as Scripture, yet Calvinists insist (dishonestly) that it is Scripture alone which they follow. No, Calvinists follow men’s interpretations of Scripture, which means you, as a Calvinist, are not following Christ, but following men’s doctrines –particularly, Augustine’s, Luther’s, and Calvin’s. By the very title “Calvinism”, your belief system is one that adheres to what John Calvin wrote in his “Institutes”. Please do not side-step this fact by talking about “hyper-calvinism” and a “straw man”. Those are typical phrases of evasion I’ve heard numerous times by those who don’t want to own up to what their system does indeed teach.
Now what I find interesting is that the writer seems to define a cult as any religious system that persecutes a group of people like Roman Catholisim did. The other problem is the author is not even addressing the “system” of Calvinism, which is actually what it is. The other problem is the author throws a statement saying that Calvin quoted Augustine saying that since Augustine believed that the Church and the Bible were on equal authoritative grounds that is what Calvin believed.
So what can we learn from this when presenting an argument? A number of things, namely:
- Context is Everything – Our author, despite her strong convictions really gave no context to her argument nor the context around the quote from Calvin quoting Augustine.
- Define your Terms – She throws out the term, “Calvinism” without ever defining it.
- Genetic Fallacy – She attributes what Augustine believed about the weight of Scripture and Church to Calvin, simply because he quoted him.
So it is important to think your presuppositions to their logical conclusions with chains of reasoning that can be used to defend your position and what you are actually trying to prove.
The starting point for the Christian worldview is always the scriptures, but if you listen to Christians attempting to defend the Christian faith, they seldom start with the Scriptures. Instead they feel it is necessary to “put themselves in the mind of the unbeliever” in order to establish a “common ground” to have sound discourse with them. When this approach is utilized the battle is over.
Why would the battle be over with defending the Christian faith with this approach? The moment the Christian concedes(Even just for the sake of argument) they have already agreed that there is a possibility that God and the Bible may not be true. The Scriptures never grant the Christian such liberty. Let’s look at the verse below and see if we can apply it to our example above:
(ESV) John 8:24: “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”
Jesus was speaking to the Jewish religious leaders and you say he was engaged in an apologetic for the faith. He does not once concede and say, “OK, let’s just for sake of the argument I”m not who I say I am, namely the Son of God, who takes away the sins of the world…?” No, this is never once entertained, but the unbelieving leaders are forced to either accept His testimony and therefore to believe that he is the promised Messiah or they will perish in their sins. There is zero room for neutrality. And this is the point; to concede to the unbelievers position is to believe that God is neutral and we not from the Scriptures that this is not the cause. The Lords judgements are binary; we are either covenant keepers or covenant breakers. Saints or reprobates.
So this is why the presuppositional method of apologetics is the most faithful defense of the Christian faith to the scriptures. We have committed our way to the King of Kings and as Christ said in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
I think any rationale person would agree that in order to understand anything you need an adequate of the thing being discussed. For our purposes we will be referencing “thing” as a system. Our model will be simple. We will create a system that simply adds two integer values together and outputs the sum of the two values. That being said we can view the conception of the things defined in what historically engineers have referred to as “Black Box Engineering”. This method is commonly used in engineering disciplines and is really very simple.
In the diagram shown above the model consists of 3 parts:
1. Input – Before anything meaningful can be done with our system we need some type of input to act on. For example, we will pass two inputs: a = 1, b =2.
2. Blackbox – This is where our input collected in step 1 is transformed into something that we desire. In our model our blackbox will compute the sum of the two input values.
3. Output – This is the result of our transformation produced by our Blackbox in step 2.
Now let’s make this a little more interesting. Can we apply this method to the order of salvation in relation to the Christian religion? Yes, we can and more specifically as it relates to the Ordus Salutis (Order of Salvation):
1. Inputs – The inputs to feed into our Blackbox consist of biblical means of grace that includes:
A. The preaching of the Word. (Romans 10:17)
B. Prayer (I Tim 2:1)
2. Blackbox – Regeneration that occurs by the Spirit of God working with the inputs of A & B primarily.
3. Output – The resulting output is a new creature in Christ that is justified, sanctified, adopted in the family of God, faith, and eternal life to name a few.
So we see everything human beings deal with are systems in some form or another weather they be buildings, bridges, or the order in which Christ saves a man.