Archive for September 10th, 2016



Point: Doctor Cornelius Van Til, the father of Presuppositional apologetics, is famous for asking the following question to those who would attack the Christian faith: “On what foundation rest the guns which he directs against the Christian position?”  Cornelius Van Til was insightful to note that the presuppositions one bring to the discussion about the truth of Christianity matters.  In fact presuppositions are very crucial.  Elsewhere Van Til said,

The issue between believers and non-believers in Christian theism cannot be settled by a direct appeal to “facts” or “laws” whose nature and significance is already agreed upon by both parties to the debate. The question is rather as to what is the final reference-point required to make the “facts” and “laws” intelligible. The question is as to what the “facts” and “laws” really are. Are they what the non-Christian methodology assumes that they are? Are they what the Christian theistic methodology presupposes they are?” (Source)

Thus “The Christian position seeks to make human experience intelligible in terms of the presupposition of God; the non-Christian position seeks to make human experience intelligible in terms of man who is conceived of as ultimate.”  Often many anti-theists and proponents of non-Christian religions that reject the sovereignty of God would believe that chance is ultimate.  Van Til believes a chance universe is self-defeating of knowlege in which chance makes everything unintelligible as he stated in a famous quote:

So hopeless and senseless a picture must be drawn of the natural man’s methodology based as it is upon the assumption that time or chance is ultimate. On his assumption his own rationality is a product of chance. On his assumption even the laws of logic which he employs are products of chance. The rationality and purpose that he may be searching for are still bound to be products of chance. So then the Christian apologist, whose position requires him to hold that Christian theism is really true and as such must be taken as the presupposition which alone makes the acquisition of knowledge in any field intelligible, must join his “friend” in his hopeless gyrations so as to point out to him that his efforts are always in vain. (Source: Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (P&R, 1972), p. 102.)

Van Til’s own illustration in the famous quote was the following:

Suppose we think of a man made of water in an infinitely extended and bottomless ocean of water. Desiring to get out of water, he makes a ladder of water. He sets this ladder upon the water and against the water and then attempts to climb out of the water. (Source)

But I think the following illustration below would be a helpful supplement to explain why a chance ultimate universe makes knowledge irrational and unintelligible.



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