God: “behind the scenes” (or “under the floorboards”) of every argument

My lifelong interest in arguments for and against the existence of God was never the same once it dawned on me that unless the God of the Bible exists, there wouldn’t be any such thing as argumentation (and therefore no theistic argumentation).

A study of Cornelius Van Til Image result for cornelius van tiland his interpreter Greg L. Bahnsen occasioned that dawning.

Not even “God does not exist” is intelligible unless God exists.

Image result for greg bahnsenRare is the philosopher who, inferring God’s existence from the existence or character of the world, asks whether inference itself would be possible in a non-theistic world. If it isn’t, then theistic inference is redundant. Our ability to investigate is itself a divine intention.

Professions of atheism are spiritually insincere because they result from the affirmers’ suppression of their basic awareness of God’s existence. (Romans 1:18-20) We all know the latter as incorrigibly as we know that the world has existed for millennia independently of any of us, a world that has included billions of human selves.

Further, one knows the existence of God, the world, and other selves “primordially,” that is, neither by deduction nor by induction, but prior to any deduction or induction one performs. (See my discussion of Augustus Hopkins Strong’s notion of “first truths” here.)

God, the cosmos, and a plurality of minds other than one’s own are in the same epistemological boat. (This is the claim of Alvin Plantinga in his 1967 God and Other Minds.)Image result for alvin plantinga To be skeptical about one but not the other two is arbitrary. Our innate predisposition to be realistic about all three is divinely written “software” that informs our cerebral “wetware.”

Image result for god and other mindsOur world must be as the Bible describes it (and therefore its central figure and primary author must exist) if we are to make sense of the organic connectedness of several seemingly incommensurable realities: a plurality of contemporary persons who communicate their (imperfect though perfectible) reasons with symbols; are normally endowed with (fallible yet for practical purposes reliable) memory; who, with that imperfect memory and imperfect reasoning powers, grasp patterns in nature, can recall their regularity and impute its objective existence to nature.

Besides our cognitive equipment we also bring to every argument a dimension of ethical drama or moral struggle. For at different times we love and hate; pursue and suppress truth; brave dangers and cower in fear; champion and betray the good; create and destroy beauty. Perceptual predications (e.g., “There is a white cup on the brown table”) have preconditions of intelligibility, but so do logical predications (e.g., “Two things equal to a third are equal to each other”); ethical predications (e.g., “Genocide is evil”; “Heroism is noble”) and aesthetic predications (e.g., “The sunrise was breathtakingly beautiful”). And those diverse kinds of predications are about the same world.

We also conduct our lives as though our existence is not an ultimately meaningless byproducts of equally meaningless impersonal forces, but as if it were a divine intention. We do not act as though in a void, even if some of us doubt or even deny that there is such a thing as a divine intention.

And there’s the religious dimension: we attempt, whether in confidence or desperation, to seek and make contact with the source of our ultimate meaning, even making bold to implore that source to save us from the consequences of our spiritual perdition. (Or, in evasion of that source’s pursuit of us, we tell ourselves that our pursuit of our projects is in the end no more significant than scratching an itch.)

The worldview that makes sense of all that in the Bible. I have found myself unable to resist the impression I get from reading it, namely, that its primary author is the One referred to therein as the Lord God.

The Bible also provides an explanation of that impression: grace.

When one is convinced that God is already “behind the scenes” (or “under the floorboards”) of every argument, a direct argument for His existence (like one for the existence of the “external world” or of “other minds”) becomes a intellectual curiosity, no longer intellectually imperative.