Quill and writing

Presuppositional Apologetics

In the verses below I try to capture the essential argument made by Christian apologists as expounded best of all by Dr Cornelius Van Til and afterwards by faithful students – e.g. Dr Greg Bahnsen.  It’s worth careful contemplation, especially in these days in which we find ourselves bombarded by superficially plausible rhetoric from ‘atheists’.  Succinctly, it states

Words presuppose Meaning
….Meaning presupposes Truth;
….Truth presupposes Logic;
….Logic presupposes God!

Let’s unpack it briefly.  The atheist marshals his argument against God.  He uses WORDS!  But the words he uses each possess inherently MEANING. Moreover, the meaning of any particular word is (generally) fixed.  Thus we can identify its TRUE meaning and distinguish it from any attempted FALSE meaning.  However, to discern the difference between TRUE and FALSE meaning presupposes that we can execute at least rudimentary (basic) LOGIC – since that is what rationally we do when we evaluate the truthfulness of a proposition (i.e. a series of words that constitute a statement).  But, LOGIC is exclusively an enterprise undertaken by persons.  It is a personal exercise – not something a machine could accomplish.  The machine is pre-programmed to perform a routine (function) according to pre-programmed rules or conditions.  It cannot exercise choice – except perhaps arbitrarily!  It turns out, when laid bare and carefully scrutinised, that the laws of logic we utilise when we seek to make rational (& moral) choices cannot be accounted for in any strictly material way.  Materially there are no ‘Laws of Logic’ yet they exist!  Moreover, they exist timelessly and universally.  How are we to account for something we use so routinely and so consistently?  The answer is clear to those who are epistemologically self-conscious.  The Laws of Logic are “the way GOD thinks and the way HE expects us to think!” Just as we hold one another to account for simple violations of these laws, so GOD holds us to account for the way we think and consequently for the way we act.  The thief is guilty for the violation of the Law of Identity when he says, “It’s not my wallet; but it’s not the case that it’s not my wallet”.  The moral aspect of a violation of any one of the laws of logic is sometimes subtle.  But looked at closely, all matters are morally pursued – i.e. there is a right or wrong involved in their execution.  Thus sin is every moment practised or avoided!  Moreover, it follows that, since all issues are moral issues, all issues are ultimately religious issues!  There are no religiously neutral zones!  Hence, finally, when the atheist merely opens his mouth to utter some scornful objection against God, Scripture or Christianity in general, He subtly invokes God in order to do so.  That is to say, as Van Til famously said, “Atheism presupposes Theism!”  A powerful analogical caricature of the situation corresponds to a small child being dangled on its parent’s lap & held in its parents loving arms whilst the child carelessly lashes out at its father/mother.  O that God might open the eyes of the blind & mercifully forgive us for our high treason against Him.  Amen!

The vain imagination spouting forth from bogus humanists
Is proud to fraternize with ardent, foolish evolutionists;
Their words betray they are but hypocritical delusionists
Presuming that the best of them’s accountable to none.

For every single word they use pretentiously in arguments
Betrays a moral failure masquerading stubborn ignorance;
The treason boldly they parade’s a badge of their impertinence
As, day to day, they claim to live alone beneath the sun.

For what we call ‘the meaning’ of our daily talk made up of words
Is patently contextualised – more simply put – it’s presupposed!
If all the sounds we sputtered out were syntactically transposed
Our fellow friends would point at us and ask, ‘What’s going on?’

Yet every word’s significance uprightly stands because it’s true;
If what we mean is, “No, I don’t”, then none would say, “Why yes, I do”.
And so you see the truth of propositions we at times eschew
Assumes we all can separate what’s right from what is wrong!

Which brings us nicely next to question how we can ‘Deduce’
Especially when fallacious talk makes reasoning obtuse;
The logic we invoke to apprehend all meaning and its truth
Depends upon transcendent laws much more than how it’s spun.

So finally at last we are positioned well to see
The logic we routinely use is ours by God’s decree
Thus when, at times, our fellow friends speak surreptitiously
We may politely call them out and what they say may shun!

‘Tis as the great Apostle once declared on Athens’ hill
All things are rooted firmly on the ground of Sovereign will;
We have our being, live and move while yet we’re standing still,
As image bearing creatures held together by the Son.

Thus everything that sinners say to scorn the Lord on high
Depends upon the truth of what they forcibly deny;
Just like a child in love’s embrace strikes at its mother’s eye
They are an endless ‘Fool’s Parade’ of vicious ‘Hit and Run’.

Steve Layfield – Psalter21.com