Christian and Non-Christian Views: Epistemology

Christian and Non-Christian Views:
1. Reality
2. Epistemology
3. Facts
4. Logic

Neither Christian nor non-Christian can, as finite beings, by means of logic, legislate what reality should be.

a. Knowing this, the Christian observes facts and arranges them logically in self-conscious subjection to the plan of God revealed in Scripture, i.e., he listens to God’s explanation of his relation to the world and man, both in Adam and in Christ, before he “listens” to, and during his observation of, the “facts.” He knows that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Assuming the plan of God, the Christian knows that the facts have a divine order. The Christian’s task in science is to uncover the God-ordained structure of the world. For the Christian, man and the world are made for one another so that the rational abilities of man are applicable to the world as man seeks to “subdue the earth.”

b. Knowing this, the non-Christian, nonetheless, constantly attempts the impossible by demanding a coherence that originates with himself.

(1) Negatively, he must assume that reality is not divinely created and controlled in accordance with God’s plan at all, and that the Christian story therefore cannot be true. The world of “facts” springs from “Chaos and Old Night”—ultimate Chance.

(2) Positively, he must assume that reality is after all rationally constituted and answers exhaustively to his logical manipulations. If the world were not rational or “uniform,” then there could be no science. Any “cosmic mind,” or God, must therefore be able to be manipulated by man-made categories. Any God not reducible to logical or empirical categories, and therefore completely understandable, is a false God.

 

– Cornelius Van Til, The Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought.
   (Variations in The Defense of the Faith p.304, and Jerusalem and Athens p.19-20)

 

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