Christian Apologetics - Lesson 10


Objections to inductive presuppositionalism.

Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Lesson 10
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Worldview Issues

Part 3

VII.  Objection to Inductive Presuppositionalism

A.  E. J. Carnell

B.  Cornelius Van Til - "Nothing more than probability"

C.  Two Kinds of Certainty

1.  Logical Certainty

2.  Psychological Certainty

  • Introduction to Apologetics.

  • Apologetics involves finding evidence and presenting arguments to defend the Christian faith.

  • Two prominent worldviews are Christian theism and naturalism.

  • The law of non-contradiction states that A cannot be B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense.

  • Explanations and responses to different worldviews.

  • If God is good and all powerful, then why does evil exist?

  • Discussion about how the existence of evil is consistent with God's character.

  • Your noetic structure, presuppositions and view of epistemology are important elements in the formation of your worldview.

  • Discussion of deductive presuppositionalism vs. inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Objections to inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Arguments for and against evidentialism.

  • Arguments for and against foundationalism.

  • Discussion of natural theology.

  • There are valid, sound and cogent arguments for the existence of God, but no coercive proofs.

  • Discussion of different arguments for God's existence.

  • One version of the cosmological argument for God's existence emphasizes God as first in time, another emphasizes God as first in importance.

  • A possible world is a way the real world could have been. Modal logic, propositions, state of affairs and eternal entities are some of the considerations when discussing a possible world.

  • Something is logically possible if its description does not include a logical contradiction. The existence of the laws of knowledge refute the system of naturalism.

  • Middle knowledge is a form of knowledge attributed to God by Molina.

  • Miracles are a dividing line and central to Christianity.

  • David Hume's rational arguments against miracles and responses to those arguments.

  • Two miracles central to Christianity are the incarnation and resurrection.

  • The question of whether or not Jesus is the only savior touches on pluralism, inclusivism and exclusivism.

  • Pluralism is the view that all religions have salvific value.

  • Inclusivism is the view that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for a person to be saved.

  • Salvation is totally the work of God and all children who die in infancy are elect of God.

  • Discussion from a biblical perspective of God's character and attributes.

  • Open theists believe that God does not have a perfect knowledge of the future.

  • Divine omnipotence and divine omniscience are two attributes of God.

  • When contemplating life after death, remember, Jesus has been there and come back. Will you commit your life to him or reject him?

These lectures were given at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida during the fall of 2001.


Dr. Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Lesson Transcript


[00:00:18] Now, this brings us then to what is really the only objection to my form of inductive presupposition elision. And in truth, this is the objection I used to get from many of Van tils disciples. In fact, it is an objection that Van Tyll himself gives to some of the early proponents of this view. And one early proponent of the view I'm espousing here was a man named Edward John Cornell, who had studied under Gordon Clark at Wheaton College, E.J. Carnell, and then studied under Van TIL at Westminster Seminary. Here's what Van Hill said about his former student. He said Carnell leaves us with nothing more than probability, as though that's bad. Okay, Van, tell reject rejected reasoning to the best explanation because it cuts us off from certainty. And he says God deserves more than certainty. So I conclude this chapter by giving you my answer to Van Hill. Here's the reply. Either van til in his response to Carnell or other van trillions in response to other people who advocate this kind of approach to apologetics confuse two kinds of certainty. Did you notice how I pulled that out real quickly? Pulled out my sword here? There are two kinds of certainty in Van TIL confused them, or so I think. Here are the two kinds of certainty. There is logical certainty. Let's let's build a little diagram here. Here's certainty. Okay, Over here we have logical certainty. And over here we have psychological certainty. I readily concede that the philosophical methodology I use does not give us logical certainty in our case for the Christian faith. But my reply to that is, So what? Because logical certainty cannot exist in such areas of life as history. Apologetics philosophy. Outside of logic, you only get logical certainty in three or four areas of life. And here are their names. You find logical certainty in mathematics. When people come up with the right answer. Okay. So if you've got somebody who's studying mathematics from a postmodernist perspective, you aren't going to get certainty there either. In fact. This is why I think Vanderbilt would really be upset with with this emphasis upon postmodernism today, because nothing would destroy certainty. I mean, if Van still regarded the lack of certainty as the mark of a false apologetic. Then any apologetics based upon postmodernism would be cut off from any kind of logical certainty. Okay. But not me. Not me. You only find logical certainty in mathematics, in deductive logic, geometry. That's about it. Once you get out of that narrow range of areas, the only kind of certainty that's accessible to you is what we call psychological certainty. But that is person relative. There's another name for this, incidentally. It is sometimes called moral certainty. This is not available in apologetics. I'm sorry. If you want logical certainty. You better go to another planet or something else. I'll give you a quote from Carnell. Let me in fact, let me do that. Here's a great quote from Cornell at the bottom of page 65, the admission that Christianity's proof for the resurrection of Christ cannot rise above probability is not a form of weakness. It is rather an indication that the Christian is in possession of a worldview which is making a sincere effort to come to grips with actual history. Christianity is not a deductively necessary system of thought which has been spun out of a philosopher's head, wholly indifferent to the march of human history below it. In the world of blood, sweat and tears. Parentheses. Some of you think Winston Churchill said that. But you have just heard me say it. Okay. In the world of blood, sweat and tears, the only kind of certainty you can get is psychological certainty. Moral certainty. But thank God for that, because that means we're dealing with the real world, not an abstract world. Okay, so let me quote a verse of scripture. That illustrates the kind of certainty that ought to satisfy every believer. Let me quote it. Okay. I know whom I have believed. And am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed under him against that day. How many of you believe that? Thank you. I'm just checking everybody out here. I know who might have. Believe it. And I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed under him against that day. That is the kind of certainty that satisfies. And you tell me whether it is this kind of certainty or what kind of certainty is if somebody has logical certainty, but he lacks psychological certainty. You don't want that guy dating your daughter. Right. I mean, this is a very weird person. If you have large if something is logically certain, then it must also be psychologically certain. These are not mutually exclusive. I mean, obviously, you're going to have the highest degree of psychological certainty if something is logically true, which is why or you know, I've been playing around with different words, which I and I'm using them synonymously. Abduction, induction. I'm really this abducted method that I've talked about is really a form of induction in order to come up with a third kind of certainty. I think we could. In fact, I'll give you an example of a third kind of certainty. Consider someone who gets hypnotized. All right. Whether hypnotism works or not. So imagine someone who gets hypnotized or let's say, who has some kind of psychological block or Blick or something such that whenever he hears a bell chime, he believes that some invisible alien from another planet has just entered the room or something. Now, that's a case where someone can be psychologically certain about something that is totally false. I don't want to talk about that. I think in my analysis of psychological certainty, I want to limit it to beliefs that either are true or can be can be argued for in some way or other. So maybe you could come up with more more than two kinds of certainty, but I can't think of any compliment that I'd want to give to to a third kind of certainty.