It Is Necessary To Reject Agnosticism In Order To Defend It.

Agnosticism, as it pertains to theism (and my interest here is Christian theism), runs one of two ways: 1) the individualist way—claiming to have no personal knowledge as to whether or not God, (or god, or gods, deity, etc.) exists. Others may make such a knowledge claim, but the individual agnostic claims, at least for himself, to have no knowledge; 2) the second way agnosticism is expressed is universality, stating that knowledge claims about deity is impossible for anyone. No one can know if such a thing as deity exists, and those who claim to know are either simply wrong, deceived, or deceptive.

The reason this distinction matters is that although an individual agnostic may deny the universality of his agnosticism, agnosticism invariably leads to a universal claim about knowledge, and a demand of its acceptance.

If, as Christian theists assert, all people, believers and unbelievers alike, know enough about God and His Law to be held accountable to it, then the agnostic is not telling the truth when he says, “I don’t know whether or not God exists.” This is hardly surprising—people say this all the time. The problem is, of course, that Scripture tells us otherwise (Psalm 19; Romans 2:12-16). According to the Bible, there are no agnostics. If the Bible is true, there are no agnostics.

The tendency to universalize agnosticism stems from the objection to what I said in the paragraph above: “You cannot say that I know there is a God when I clearly know that I do not know. What you say about me (that I really do know that God exists) can only be true if your system is correct. I don’t believe your system and therefore I am not subject to its claims.”

To defend agnosticism is to deny Scripture. But to deny Scripture is to claim knowledge about its truthfulness. Once such knowledge is claimed, agnosticism has been abandoned. So it is necessary to reject agnosticism in order to defend it, which, of course, means it is defeated. Therefore, I would argue, that agnosticism is irrational.

Furthermore, our disbelief or belief in any proposition (such as, “God exists) is irrelevant to its truthfulness. God does not exist because I believe that He does, nor does He not-exist because I disbelieve. What is true is true whether or not I believe it, or accept it. Denying Scripture, and all it says about God’s Law, judgement, and wrath, does not remove its reality if it is real.

So the agnostic must actually claim to know something: that religious knowledge is not true, or at least that it is unknowable. This is, then knowledge, something known.

This moves us into the second way that agnosticism functions, which is as a universal. Just as Christian truth-claims are universal, the agnostic’s knowledge must be universal as well. It cannot be private, or personal, because the nature of the claim is in essence a universal.

An agnostic cannot, consistently, remain so at the personal level. It must be true for all if it is for anyone.

Christians already accept that their beliefs are universal, and not limited to the individual.

The Frustration of Modern Education

Van Til 3

“Our work as educators would be hopeless and futile if we engaged in it on the principle of synthesis discussed above. But what joy it is to know that Christ has come to save man and his culture! The first Adam by his sin refused to undertake the cultural mandate given him. When he was told to subdue the earth he would not do so as unto God his creator. But the second Adam undertook anew what the first Adam, and all men with him, failed to do. Now then, we who are saved by grace, we who have by the Spirit of God been born from above, need not beat the air. There is for us a true synthesis of all things in Christ. And we may offer this Christ to all men that they too with us might escape the futility and the absurdity, the immorality and the blasphemy, of seeking to synthesize what by their very sinful act they are all the while destroying. The task of educators who do not educate in and unto Christ is like the task of Sisyphus as he rolled his stone to the top of the hill only to see it roll down again. If the facts of the world are not created and redeemed by God in Christ, then they are like beads that have no holes in them and therefore cannot be strung into a string of beads. If the laws of the world are not what they are as relating the facts that are created and redeemed by Christ, these laws are like a string of infinite length, neither end of which can be found. Seeking to string beads that cannot be strung because they have no holes in them, with string of infinite length neither end of which you can find; such is the task of the educator who seeks to educate without presupposing the truth of what the self-attesting Christ has spoken in the Scriptures.”

Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1979).

No Common Ground in Apologetics, but an Axe to Grind

Van Til 2

“It is only to follow out the lead which Hodge in his theology, following Calvin, has given, if we seek our point of contact not in any abstraction whatsoever, whether it be reason or intuition. No such abstraction exists in the universe of men. We always deal with concrete individual men. These men are sinners. They have “an axe to grind.” They want to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. They will employ their reason for that purpose. And they are not formally illogical if, granted the assumption of man’s ultimacy, they reject the teachings of Christianity. On the contrary, to be logically consistent they are bound to do so. This point will engage us more fully in the sequel. For the moment it must suffice to have shown how the apologist is not only untrue to his own doctrine of man as the creature of God, but also defeats his own purpose if he appeals to some form of the “common consciousness of man.”

Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Philadelphia, 1955).

Here's the Problem:

https://mediamatters.org/embed/206855

This scene from the TV series Homeland was featured on Monday’s MSNBC news, as a commentary on the Paris attacks. Notice around the 1:35 mark, when the solutions are proffered: “200,000 ground troops indefinitely to protect an equal number of doctors and teachers,” OR “bomb Raqqa into a parking lot.”

Those are the only options available to the mind of popular media (which is a mirror of popular thought). I fear that Western leadership suffers from the same tunnel-vision, when the question should be asked, “Why are we so impotent?”

We, the West, are powerless to fight against the ideology of Islam, as the clip correctly shows. But the problem is not one of strategy, but one of moral nerve. This moral nerve cannot be mustered, because the West has committed spiritual suicide, having finally and completely rejected its spiritual foundations in Christendom.

Christendom gets a lot of bad press right now, often without describing what it really was, could be, and really entails. Mention it and you will get one of two comments: “You can’t go back to the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver,'” or, “Yes, but the Crusades were terrible.” The first comment only demonstrates ignorance; the second, fails to understand that the soldiers of the Crusades actually believed that what they were fighting for had eternal consequences.

Today’s soldiers will grow weary fighting for freedom when, upon their return, find that their governments define freedom as confused young men’s rights to shower with their daughters after gym. The growth of government has been a solution to the wrong problem for decades, and when freedom is celebrated in the West, it is done so with the proper permissions, permits, and waivers.

The spiritual underpinnings of Western freedoms and democracies have not simply faded away, they have been banished. This is why in popular culture, the two options of humanistic education and health care (the 21st centuries’ version of salvation) or elimination through bombing are the only two choices available.

The option of national repentance, from leaders to the led, across all segments of society, is not on the table, and this is certainly why the West must fall.

We, the West, have tolerated the destruction of generations of children. We cannot, then, think of ourselves as the moral superiors to Islam in any form, violent or not. Our cultural sins have brought great judgement upon us, and God will give our lands to those who do not kill their children.

Consider God’s words against Nineveh, who a century and a half repented under Jonah’s preaching, but was to fall for their sins. Nahum compares Nineveh to Thebes of Egypt, a nation that Nineveh (Assyria) slaughterd:

Nahum 3:10 (ESV)

10  Yet she became an exile;

she went into captivity;

her infants were dashed in pieces

at the head of every street;

for her honoured men lots were cast,

and all her great men were bound in chains.

Notice the infanticide that Nineveh inflicted upon Thebes, and how that was a cause of judgement. Nineveh was known for its cruelty, yet somehow Western post-Christian nations think that they are not! The thousands that Islam has killed in the past decades is such a small number compared to the mass destruction of the innocent by the West.

In Nahum 3:11-13 we read how easy it will be for Babylon to defeat Nineveh. Keep in mind that Nineveh and Assyria were the regions superpowers at the time, and were thought for years to be invincible. No military strategist could have seen this coming.

11  You also will be drunken;

you will go into hiding;

you will seek a refuge from the enemy.

12  All your fortresses are like fig trees

with first-ripe figs—

if shaken they fall

into the mouth of the eater.

13  Behold, your troops

are women in your midst.

The gates of your land

are wide open to your enemies;

fire has devoured your bars.

Drunkenness, fear, pursuit, an easy target, women soldiers and open gates all describe Nineveh before her enemies. Nineveh, and her neighbhours, did not believe this for a moment, but this is how their end came.

God mocks their preparations, as He mocks our strategies today:

Nahum 3:14–15 (ESV)

14  Draw water for the siege;

strengthen your forts;

go into the clay;

tread the mortar;

take hold of the brick mold!

15  There will the fire devour you;

the sword will cut you off.

It will devour you like the locust.

Multiply yourselves like the locust;

multiply like the grasshopper!

Get ready, and die anyway, is the message of Nahum.

More doctors! More teachers! or, More bombs!

Since we’re not treating our cancer, it must metastasize. God granted Nineveh repentance during the days of Jonah, but did not do so again. We have no certainty that He will grant us repentance, and we should just reflect upon that.

Here’s the Problem:

https://mediamatters.org/embed/206855

This scene from the TV series Homeland was featured on Monday’s MSNBC news, as a commentary on the Paris attacks. Notice around the 1:35 mark, when the solutions are proffered: “200,000 ground troops indefinitely to protect an equal number of doctors and teachers,” OR “bomb Raqqa into a parking lot.”

Those are the only options available to the mind of popular media (which is a mirror of popular thought). I fear that Western leadership suffers from the same tunnel-vision, when the question should be asked, “Why are we so impotent?”

We, the West, are powerless to fight against the ideology of Islam, as the clip correctly shows. But the problem is not one of strategy, but one of moral nerve. This moral nerve cannot be mustered, because the West has committed spiritual suicide, having finally and completely rejected its spiritual foundations in Christendom.

Christendom gets a lot of bad press right now, often without describing what it really was, could be, and really entails. Mention it and you will get one of two comments: “You can’t go back to the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver,'” or, “Yes, but the Crusades were terrible.” The first comment only demonstrates ignorance; the second, fails to understand that the soldiers of the Crusades actually believed that what they were fighting for had eternal consequences.

Today’s soldiers will grow weary fighting for freedom when, upon their return, find that their governments define freedom as confused young men’s rights to shower with their daughters after gym. The growth of government has been a solution to the wrong problem for decades, and when freedom is celebrated in the West, it is done so with the proper permissions, permits, and waivers.

The spiritual underpinnings of Western freedoms and democracies have not simply faded away, they have been banished. This is why in popular culture, the two options of humanistic education and health care (the 21st centuries’ version of salvation) or elimination through bombing are the only two choices available.

The option of national repentance, from leaders to the led, across all segments of society, is not on the table, and this is certainly why the West must fall.

We, the West, have tolerated the destruction of generations of children. We cannot, then, think of ourselves as the moral superiors to Islam in any form, violent or not. Our cultural sins have brought great judgement upon us, and God will give our lands to those who do not kill their children.

Consider God’s words against Nineveh, who a century and a half repented under Jonah’s preaching, but was to fall for their sins. Nahum compares Nineveh to Thebes of Egypt, a nation that Nineveh (Assyria) slaughterd:

Nahum 3:10 (ESV)

10  Yet she became an exile;

she went into captivity;

her infants were dashed in pieces

at the head of every street;

for her honoured men lots were cast,

and all her great men were bound in chains.

Notice the infanticide that Nineveh inflicted upon Thebes, and how that was a cause of judgement. Nineveh was known for its cruelty, yet somehow Western post-Christian nations think that they are not! The thousands that Islam has killed in the past decades is such a small number compared to the mass destruction of the innocent by the West.

In Nahum 3:11-13 we read how easy it will be for Babylon to defeat Nineveh. Keep in mind that Nineveh and Assyria were the regions superpowers at the time, and were thought for years to be invincible. No military strategist could have seen this coming.

11  You also will be drunken;

you will go into hiding;

you will seek a refuge from the enemy.

12  All your fortresses are like fig trees

with first-ripe figs—

if shaken they fall

into the mouth of the eater.

13  Behold, your troops

are women in your midst.

The gates of your land

are wide open to your enemies;

fire has devoured your bars.

Drunkenness, fear, pursuit, an easy target, women soldiers and open gates all describe Nineveh before her enemies. Nineveh, and her neighbhours, did not believe this for a moment, but this is how their end came.

God mocks their preparations, as He mocks our strategies today:

Nahum 3:14–15 (ESV)

14  Draw water for the siege;

strengthen your forts;

go into the clay;

tread the mortar;

take hold of the brick mold!

15  There will the fire devour you;

the sword will cut you off.

It will devour you like the locust.

Multiply yourselves like the locust;

multiply like the grasshopper!

Get ready, and die anyway, is the message of Nahum.

More doctors! More teachers! or, More bombs!

Since we’re not treating our cancer, it must metastasize. God granted Nineveh repentance during the days of Jonah, but did not do so again. We have no certainty that He will grant us repentance, and we should just reflect upon that.

Bahnsen on Miracles: What Makes a Theist?

 

Bahnsen on Miracles

Quote from Greg Bahnsen in his closing remarks in a debate with Dr. Gordon Stein (Stein representing the atheist position).

Audio and printed transcript available here.

The full context of the quote below:

Moderator: Dr. Stein, the final question is directed to you. It reads:
You have said that there has been no adequate evidence put forth for God’s existence. What for you personally would constitute adequate evidence for God’s existence?
Stein: Well, it’s very simple. I can give you two examples. If that podium suddenly rose into the air five feet, stayed there for a minute and then dropped right down again, I would say that is evidence of a supernatural because it would violate everything we knew about the laws of physics and chemistry.

Assuming that there wasn’t an engine under there or a wire attached to it, we can make those obvious exclusions. That would be evidence for a supernatural violation of the laws. We could call it a miracle right before your eyes. That would be evidence I would accept.

Any kind of a supernatural being putting it into appearance and doing miracles that could not be stage magic would also be evidence that I would accept. Those are the two simplest way. I would also accept evidence that logically non-contradictory, and I have not heard any yet here tonight that hasn’t been offered already.

Bahnsen: Dr. Stein, I think, is really not reflecting on the true nature of atheism and human nature when he says, “All it would take is a miracle in my very presence to believe in God.” History is replete with first of all things which would be apparently miracles to people.

Now, from an atheistic or naturalistic standpoint, I will grant, in terms of the hypothesis, that that’s because they were ignorant of all the calls of factors and so it appeared to be miracles. But you see that didn’t make everybody into a theist. In fact, the Scriptures tells us that there were instances of people who witnessed miracles, who all the more hardened their heart, and eventually crucified the Lord of glory. They saw his miracles, that didn’t change their mind.

People are not made theists by miracles. People must change their world views; their hearts must be changed. They need to be converted. That what it takes, and that’s what it would take for Dr. Stein to finally believe it. If this podium rose up five feet off the ground and stayed there, Dr. Stein would eventually have in the future some naturalistic explanation because they believe things on faith, by which I mean that they believe things as which they have not proven by their senses.

Spiritual Warfare

We should remember that the Christian is only taking back from Satan that which was never his in the first place–the Christian conducts warfare to repossess in Christ’s name what was ceded to Satan through sin. There is not one element of Creation that rightfully belongs to the Devil; not children, not the family, not marriage, not education, not civil government, not science, not the arts, not language, not labour nor economics. All this and more has been usurped by him, and gladly given over to him through human sinfulness.

Some Posts Are Too Important to Link–and Must be Quoted in Full

The link is here.

Having given that, Doug Wilson’s entire post is below:

7 Questions for Those Who Want Money for People With Minds That Hate . . .

Let me get this straight.

1. You are the group that wants drivers working for FedEx and UPS to be unknowingly carrying around boxes with baby parts in them, babies who were killed for the sake of those parts, AND you want to be the enlightened, progressive group?Boxes

2. You are the party that wants lab workers to dump baby parts into pie plates, in order to sort through them carefully looking for the valuable bits, AND you want to be the liberals?

3. You are the faction who wants to keep us from showing mothers an ultrasound of their child, in order to keep that child alive, and you want to prevent those same mothers from seeing how you use the ultrasound (to avoid damaging the product), AND you want to be known as the ones in favor of the free flow of information?

4. You want to tell one group of people that we are just dealing with nondescript tissue and such, and you want to tell another group that you have livers, hearts, lungs, and limbs for sale, AND you want to be the party of intellectual consistency and forthrightness?

5. You want to be known as the group that thinks #blacklivesmatter, while you are the leading wholesaler of black people in America today, only you kill them first, with your prices much lower than 19th century prices were, AND you want to be the enlightened ones who are showing the way for us on matters of racial reconciliation?

6. You are the party of women’s rights and you agitate for protection for women, and yet with the exclamation #anotherboy, you reveal that you do in fact know that half of the bodies you are taking to market are female bodies, AND you want to be the feminists?

7. You are the group that has T-shirts reading “care no matter what,” and at the same time you are the merchants who fatten children for market, since 20 weekers bringing in more than the younger ones, AND you don’t want to be the witches straight out of medieval tales?

All I can tell is brother you have to wait.