Understanding understanding: using your loaf

Whether you are an atheist, agnostic, Christian or whatever, you presuppose you are able to understand – at least this sentence.

In Christian apologetics, there are two main schools: the evidentialists and the presuppositionalists. Both agree that God gave us a loaf and expects us to use it, for you can’t assent to something that has not initially passed through your loaf. . They disagree, however, on how we go about using it. The evidentialist says there are three stages in coming to faith in Christ: 1. Information (notitia) 2. Intellectual assent (assensus) and 3. Trust (fiducia). The presuppositionalist agrees that you need all three. The two schools differ in the following regard. I use a verse from scripture to illustrate:

1 John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know him who is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

The pesupposionalist says:

(Note: “This,” which begins the second sentence, refers grammatically to the immediate antecedent, namely, “his Son Jesus Christ.”

The reason we (Christians) understand his Son Jesus Christ to be the true God is because the Father decreed from eternity that we would understand it – providing us with the means of the three stages of notitia, assensus and fiducia.

How do I know that God decreed that some would use their loaf in the right way, how do I justify the presupposition that God decrees everything? You’re asking me to prove this presupposition. This presupposes that presuppositions can be proved. Atheists presuppose the “laws” of nature because, they say, THAT is the way nature has evolved; I presuppose the God of the Bible because the Bible says THAT is the way I was created.

Romans 1:14-21
I am debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: 21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.

To put it gently, reject Romans 1,  you’re toast.

How do we go about determining truth and knowledge? Classical problems with no earthly answers.


How rationalism hijacked philosophy.

Originally posted on Rebuild Your Biblical Worldview:


Historically, there have been three areas of philosophy that philosophers have debated over, and these areas can be illustrated with three questions: what is the nature of reality (metaphysics); how do we know what we know (epistemology); and what is the proper way to live (ethics).

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The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in light of Stephen Hawking’s “natural selection assumes natural rejection.”



Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking


For most of the world, the downing of MH17 was a very sad day. For many it is an occasion for much reflection on human selfishness and agression, and, hopefully, including our own. But surely not for materialists – logically speaking.

At one of his lectures at the University of Cambridge, where he is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a Chair once held by Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, who suffers from acute motor neuron disease, said the folowing regarding the long-term survival of humanity:

My only fear is this. The terror that stalks my mind is that we have arrived on the scene because of evolution. Because of naturalistic selection, and natural selection assumes natural rejection, which means we have arrived here because of our aggression – chemicals exploding in our reptilian brain. And my hope is that somehow we can keep from eating each other up for another 100 years. At that point science would have devised a scheme to take all of us into different planets of the universe and no one atrocity would destroy all of us at the same time.”

On the “after-life” he said. “The belief that heaven and an afterlife awaits us is a “fairy story for people afraid of death.” There is, for Hawking, nothing beyond the last flicker of the brain waves. What counts he said is making good use of our lives by “seeking the greatest value of our action.”

On the one hand, Hawking says “natural selection assumes natural rejection, and natural selection assumes we have arrived here by our aggression,” and on the other hand, he says “we should seek the greatest value of our action.” Now, if we arrived on this planet by aggression – “we” implies every individual human birth – then it would be logical that we not only arrived here by aggression but survive by aggression: the survival of the fittest; in value terms the survival of the shittest.

Hawking also said “Science predicts that many different kinds of universes will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in.”

(Stephen Hawking: ‘There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story.’ The Guardian, 15 May 2011).

To summarise Hawking: By chance, nothing created the human species out of nothing, where the distinctive attribute of the genetic blueprint is aggression. All is aggression – “nature red in tooth and claw” (Tennyson). In such a materialistic world, human free will is an illusion. Indeed, terms like “will” and “freedom” refer to nothing in reality. In Hawking’s materialistic view of “natural selection assumes natural rejection,” to seek the greatest value in our action means that each person or group has evolved to reject any values that clash with their own – and to do so aggressively. If Hawking puts his money where his mouth is, which I have no reason to question, then in his world – and so it must be in the world of every practical atheist – not only do the terms “free” and “will” refer to nothing in reality, the same applies to “good” and “evil.” I could go on and on: “love,” “guilt,” “forgiveness,” “judgement.”

Many of those who think or say that the downing of Flight MH17 was an evil act are materialists. In the language of Hawking, evolution has rejected – and no surprise, aggressively so – MH17 by blowing it up and cutting short the lives of all aboard and automatically causing untold suffering to thousands of friends and relatives. Morals, and morale, for that matter, cannot exist in a a world solely of matter.

The moral of my story is: when someone opens their gob about the morality of MH17, or anything else, ask them if they are materialists. If they are, tell them to shut up; unless you’re a confounded one yourself.


Apologetics: What’s the use!

In his article on the use of apologetics, “What’s it all for?”, the author holds the view – confusing to many – that “I am definitely an apologist and in the same breath say that there can be no objective proof for the existence of God.” Some hold the view that apologetics is useful, others the view that there is no objective proof of God’s existence, but very few would hold to both views. The author writes:

Apologetics was never really or initially about proving God to someone who did not believe in God to begin with. It simply wasn’t. It has evolved into that kind of thing, and along with it, it has become an cyclical exercise nearing futility. Rather, apologetics is about the process of critical thinking about the way we already make sense of reality and the universe. It is the process of checking ourselves (as theists) to make sure that we are thinking about our understanding of God correctly and accurately. And it works most of the time. It actually does provide a logical framework based on our existing worldview that demonstrates our beliefs about God and religious truth are accurate.”

So, the author maintains, you are not going to convince an atheist that God exists, definitely not that a personal God exists, and certainly not that the being of this personal God is a trinity of persons. Apologetics is of most use in a theist-to-theist discussion. As Greg Koukl puts it, all he is doing in his “Stand to Reason” ministry is putting a stone in someone’s shoe. Make that a burning cinder, and I’ll agree.

However, continues the author, that does not mean “I think apologetic conversations between a theist and an atheist is entirely useless. But the point cannot be to show that the atheist ought to believe the theist is right. That simply will not work. Rather, the point ultimately is to apply a critical analysis of the argument itself. The atheist will point out logical errors in the arguments because they cannot have any kind of confirmation bias to disregard them. However, the theist has to keep in mind that the atheist will also point out perceived errors based on the assumptions the theist does not share. That’s where the theist has to be able to recognize where the atheist are coming from so he/she can discern which objections are valid and which ones are not, because from the atheist’s perspective, they are simply not going to be able to tell the difference.”

What can be very useful for theists in discussion with atheists is to get atheists to think about their thinking, which, in a nutshell, is what philosophy is all about.  Towards the end of  the Backpack Radio episode “Thinking about thinking,” the presenter slips in the most significant remark of the whole episode: Christianity is foolishness to the natural man (1 Corinthians 1 and 2), and that without regeneration (being born again – John 3) – no matter how clear your presentation – no one can come to believe in Christ.

Having said that, logical argumentation, as the writer of “What’s it all for?” said above, can be very useful in showing atheists the inconsistencies they hold. For example, in Backpack Radio’s subsequent episode, James Anderson discusses “worldview.” He relates an anecdote about someone who used his book What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions, in his apologetics class. The book is written in the form of a flow chart. The first question Anderson asks is “Do you believe in absolute truth?” If you say yes, you are directed to a specific section of the book; if you answer no, you are sent to another section. Anderson tells of someone who went through the book with non theology students In answer to the question “Do you believe in absolute truth?” about 90% said no. This answer led to a related track of the book. At the end of their journey, most wanted to change their minds.

Thinking about thinking, that is, philosophy, will definitely not save you, but it can certainly get your unbelieving knickers in a knot. And if you’re riding furiously towards Damascus, that knot might be the (unguaranteed) means that God uses to pluck you off your high horse. As Anderson said, world views seldom change, but this change may occur under a crisis (death-beds generally excluded). Ultimately it is a work of the Holy Spirit – who, of course, never fails in what He wants to do. The fact that God never fails in what he wants to do is something the Calvinists on this page, if not most Christians, believe?

God uses different means for different people. One of these may be apologetics. What it ultimately comes down to is that “No one can know God without His voluntary condescension”(Westminister Confession of faith), in a word his grace, which by itself is sufficient to save – through faith, both divinely generated that turns a sow into a cat:

“Try and teach a sow to wash itself, and see how little success you would gain. It would be a great sanitary improvement if swine would be clean. Teach them to wash and clean themselves as the cat has been doing! Useless task. You may by force wash that sow, but it hastens to the mire, and is soon as foul as ever. The only way in which you can get a sow to wash itself is to transform it into a cat; then it will wash and be clean, but not till then! Suppose that transformation to be accomplished, and then what was difficult or impossible is easy enough; the swine will henceforth be fit for your parlor and your hearth-rug. So it is with an ungodly man; you cannot force him to do what a renewed man does most willingly; you may teach him, and set him a good example, but he cannot learn the art of holiness, for he has no mind to it; his nature leads him another way. When the Lord makes a new man of him, then all things wear a different aspect. So great is this change, that I once heard a convert say, “Either all the world is changed, or else I am.”(Charles Spurgeon, “All of grace”)

C.S. Lewis, the God who takes risks and Open Theism

C.S. Lewis wrote that God takes risks, therefore he is what is known as an “open theist.” Here is Lewis:

“The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free. Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. … If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will – that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings, then we may take it it is worth paying.”(C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity).

(See “The plan of salvation: Is it worth the risk, my Son? What, risk! Ask Jacques Derrida, CS Lewis and Thomas Oord.”).

Lewis says above: “Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk.” What does Lewis mean by “what” in “he knew what would happen? In this passage it seems that Lewis is not referring to God’s micro ignorance of every future event but rather of his macro uncertainty of whether humans will use their free will for evil. If God was certain that humans were going to do evil, we could not describe God as taking risks.

As for God taking a risk (by creating humans), such a statement implies that when Adam and Eve sinned, God went something like this: “Ouch, what I dreaded could happen did. Oh well, it was still worth the risk.”

This “God of the risks” does not exist in any Christian movement except the modern movement – before Lewis – of “Open Theism.” It’s basic idea is that if God foreknows what a person is going to do, it’s no different from God decreeing what a person is going to do, because if a person wants to change his mind, he cannot change what God foreknew. In open theism, genuine human freedom implies that God cannot know future human thoughts or acts because divine foreknowledge implies foreordination, that is, predestination. (See “The God Who Risks: A Theology of Divine Providence” by John Sanders ).

Does anyone know how God would react in a risky universe? When it comes to humans doing bad, what Andy Stanley does know is that God is embarrassed and much more; he has knee-jerk reactions. That is why, says Stanley, the Carmen Christi (Philippians 2:6-11) is in Bible.

Philippians 2:6-11
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Say you’re in a church where the pastor/minister teaches vital doctrines, namely, that he stands on revelation alone, and preaches the biblical doctrine of sin and condemnation and hell, and also that the only way of salvation is in the Son by His blood, His death and glorious resurrection, and the power of the Holy Ghost upon it all, and then in one of his sermons reads Philippians 2:6-10 and says – not once but twice – that what is described in that passsage is God’s “knee-jerk reaction.” That is what drives God in Philippians 2:5-12, says Andy Stanley, in the second video of the Louie Giglio’s four-part video series “How great is our God.”

(See “The violation of Philippians 2:6-10: Knee-Jerk theism).

My question is this: If God could not be sure whether humans would choose to be bad, then doesn’t it follow that God cannot tell what the content of this bad – or any human good – will be. This is pure open theism: God knows the past, knows the presence, but not the future. Man’s pristine freedom remains intact. Goodbye you Calvinist robots and hello CS and Andy.

Objectivity of good and evil: Go yang yourself

There’s a follower of Lao Tse who is a poet , who might also be lazy, but there’s no way to tell, for, although one is spellbound by one’s name, one shouldn’t find more in a name than meets the eye; well in modern times, that is. His name is One Laozi Poet. He came across my Yin Yang dualism, CS Lewis and Christianity where he suggested:

 “You might try to consider yin/yang as active/passive. It doesn’t seem appropriate to apply a good or bad label to either part of yin/yang. Good things have yin/yang elements, and bad things have yin/yang elements, as I understand things. Perhaps good/evil are opposite sides of a coin, one man’s good is another man’s evil. I don’t know, I only have one perspective, my own, from which to view things, but I’ve never met a sane person who believed themselves to be evil. I do tend to believe my enemies are evil, and those who kill my enemies are good. (This, despite every teaching that has taught me that killing is wrong).”

 Yin-Yang philosophy has a different perspective from the Bible, which teaches that both good and evil are active inclinations in the descendants of fallen Adam.

 As for “I’ve never met a sane person who believed themselves to be evil. I do tend to believe my enemies are evil, and those who kill my enemies are good,” the Bible says that all of the human faculties – mind, will, emotions – are radically corrupt, that is, shot through with evil.

 Our Laozi poet says that perhaps good/evil are opposite sides of a coin, one man’s good is another man’s evil. In other words one man’s meat is another man’s poisson (fish). Here are some thoughts from Greg Koukl on the relativity of good and evil (Greg Koukl, ““Tactics: A game plan for defending your Christian faith”).

Is Gandhi in Heaven?

When I was in India, Christian apologist Prakesh Yesudian

told me of a conversation he had with a Hindu about Gandhi,

who is much revered there….

Is Gandhi in Heaven?” the Hindu asked. “Heaven would

be a very poor place without Gandhi in it.”

Well, sir,” Prakesh answered, “you must at least believe

in Heaven then. And apparently you have done some

thinking about what would qualify someone for Heaven. Tell

me, what kind of people go to Heaven?”

Good people go to Heaven,” he responded.

But this idea of what is a good person is very unclear to


What is good?”

In typical Hindu fashion he replied, “Good and bad are


There is no clear definition.”

If that is true, sir, that goodness is relative and can’t be

defined, how is it you assume Gandhi is good and should be

in Heaven?”

Either Gandhi fulfills some external standard of goodness,

thus qualifying for Heaven, or goodness is relative and

therefore a meaningless term when applied to anyone,

including Gandhi. Both cannot be true at the same time.


 During that same trip, I had a discussion with a Hindu

college student named Kavita. As I talked about Christianity,

she raised the standard objection. “If God is as you say, how

could he allow such suffering, especially for the children?”

She gestured with a sweep of her hand as if to take in the

collective anguish of Madras, which was great.

The first thing I pointed out was that God hadn’t done this

to India. Hinduism had. Ideas have consequences, and the

suffering in Madras was a direct result of things Hindus


I then explained that it wouldn’t always be this way. A day

would come when all evil would be destroyed, and Jesus

himself would wipe away every bitter tear.

How could that be?” she objected. “Evil and good exist as

dual poles. If you have no evil, it is impossible to have good.

Each must balance the other out.”

I noticed immediately that Kavita’s response was at odds

with her first question. “Let me repeat this reasoning back to

you,” I said, “and you tell me what you think of it.” She


You ask ‘Why are innocent children starving in the

streets?’ I answer, ‘Good and evil exist as dual poles.

Children starve in Madras so kids in other parts of the World

may be happy and Well. The one balances the other out.’

What do you think?”

When the point sunk in, she was forced to smile.

Touchél” she replied.

Before Koukl’s next example, as a prelim let me quote what a “Messianic Jew” said: “[Much] damage [was] done to the interpretation of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and New Covenant writings by non-Jewish Christian theologians from the late first century, on. The road to Auschwitz was paved from such anti-Jewish polemics and their corresponding supersessionistic theological principles.” Here is another view by a Jew of the cause of the Jewish Holocaust, which Koukl relates:

After an airing of The Quarrel, a film that explored the problem of

God and the Holocaust. Director David Brandes had asked

me to help moderate a discussion with an audience about the

moral issues raised by the film.

 From one side of the auditorium a Jewish woman offered

that maybe God allowed the Holocaust as a punishment for

Israel’s wayward drift into secularism. Some Jewish thinkers

have raised this possibility in light of the promised curses of

Deuteronomy 28. The reflection prompted a sarcastic, “Well,

that’s a real loving God,” from the other side of the theater.

I called attention to the conflict suggested by the second

comment. Those who are quick to object that God isn’t doing

enough about evil in the world (“A good God wouldn’t let

that happen”) are often equally quick to complain when God

puts his foot down (“A loving God would never send anyone

to Hell”).

If God appears indifferent to wickedness, his goodness is

challenged. Yet if he acts to punish sin, his love is in

question. These objections compete with each other in most

cases. They are siblings in rivalry. One or the other needs to

be surrendered. Both can’t be held simultaneously!

 One man’s hot is another man’s cold, true; one mans clever is another man’s stupid, true. But when it comes to morality, objective standards do exist. If you contradict me, I respectfully suggest: Go yang yourself.

Common self-refuting statements of truth-cheaters

From Greg Koukl’s “Tactics: A game plan for defending your Christian faith,” p. 118.

. “There is no truth.” (Is this statement true?)
. “There are no absolutes.” (Is this an absolute?)
. “No one can know any truth about religion.” (And how,
precisely, did you come to know that truth about
. “You can’t know anything for sure.” (Are you sure about
. “Talking about God is meaningless.” (What does this
statement about God mean?)
. “You can only know truth through experience.” (What
experience taught you that truth?)
. “Never take anyone’s advice on that issue.” (Should I take
your advice on that?)

I like this one (p. 118), which reminds me of Richard Dawkins:

“I don’t believe in religion.”
“Why not?”
“There is no scientific evidence for it.”
“Then you shouldn’t believe in science either.”
“Why not?”
“Because there is no scientific evidence for it.”

Koukl comments “Since there is no scientific evidence proving that science is the only Way to know truth, the view self-destructs.”