Resolving the Origins Debate: A Review
By: Jonathan Harris
Three weeks ago I had the privilege of attending Living Water's Deeper Conference in Covington Kentucky. Aside from being blessed and encouraged through meeting other like-minded Christians and participating in evangelism every night, I was also intellectually stimulated. Towards the beginning of the year I had stumbled upon a Greg Bahnsen apologetics conference on youtube. What I thought would be a five minute passing glance, turned into hours of amazement. I then watched the whole thing again, this time taking notes. Although I've always been a presuppositionalist, up to that point, I had never been introduced to a systematized approach to using that conviction during witnessing encounters.
Dr. Jason Lisle it turns out has written a book on the subject of presuppositional apologetics entitled, The Ultimate Proof of Creation. While most of the concepts were likely learned from Dr. Greg Bahnsen, who in turned built on the ideas of Dr. Cornelius Van Till, they were communicated in a less overly-intellectual way. Not to say that they weren't intellectual, but the language itself was easier to understand as opposed to Dr. Greg Bahnsen's terminology. Dr. Lisle's speech at the conference was a synthesis of the ideas contained in his book. Being reminded of this presuppositional approach to sharing one's faith, I decided that that very night I would purpose to use this approach if challenged, and I have to say, "It worked!" This doesn't mean that everyone I talked to was converted, but no one had a rational answer by which to refute such arguments. Either the non-believer would switch the subject, retreat to irrationality, or simply leave the premises refusing to argue. Not one coherent response was used to counter the transcendental argument. It was then that it finally clicked in my mind. I needed to master this approach.
The Ultimate Proof of Creation earlier today, and have already started The Apologetic of Cornelius Van Til by Dr. Greg Bahnsen. After having used the presuppositional approach six or seven times - in somewhat rudimentary form- I'm convinced this is the only way by which to approach the unbeliever. Every worldview has assumptions (presuppositions, axioms, etc.) that cannot be proved by science, but are nonetheless assumed to be true. In fact, science itself would not function if it were not for such assumptions being true. I'm referring to the preconditions for intelligibility. We all assume that the laws of nature are uniform, that the laws of logic exist, that there is such a thing as ethics, etc. Unfortunately for the unbeliever, such inanimate conceptions are used by him or her to function on a daily basis, but they cannot be accounted for. As Christians, we can easily account for preconditions of intelligibility because they are inherent in our understanding of God. Nature is uniform because God has made it that way. He has given our minds the ability to test, and our senses the reliability to be trusted. Morality is a reflection of His moral nature, and logic is a reflection of the way in which His mind reasons. We are created in His image and therefore are pre-programmed to function in a certain way. The non-believer (irrespective of worldview) cannot make sense of any of this. "Why is it wrong to rape children for fun?" "Why do you trust the laws of logic?" "How is it possible for you to have a free-will?" Such questions force unbeliever's to retreat to their ultimate authority- if they have one. To give a case and point: I asked a humanist why it was wrong to rape children two weeks ago. He said, "Because they're children." I further queried, "Why does the fact that they're children make it wrong?" He had no answer. This is typical of most people. They simply haven't thought deep enough to realize their whole worldview has no foundation. They have no rational basis by which to account for their own beliefs.
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