Antithetical starting points

In this excerpt from the lecture series ‘Christ and Human Thought‘, Van Til stresses the importance of recognising that a starting point, method, and conclusion are always involved with one another. There is no neutrality in the starting point and method that both Christians and non-Christians use to come to their conclusions. Fundamental to the Christian position is a philosophy of fact that is not shared by the non-Christian. Every fact is a created fact and is in accordance with the providence of God. Van Til also gives a brief outline of what Greg Bahnsen has described as the ‘two-step procedure’. We stand on the non-Christian position for argument sake to show that it leads to absurdity. We then invite the non-Christian to stand on our position to show how it, and it alone, accounts for reality.

The excerpt is taken from the lecture ‘Christ and Human Thought: Church Fathers, part 2‘ from around 24:50.


Accounting for counting

They can’t account for counting… Einsteen couldn’t count. I mean he has no philosophy that accounts for the idea that one fact is different from another fact. And if one fact isn’t different from another fact, you can’t count. There has to be some difference between potato one and potato two. Suppose that you are in a coal bin on a dark December night, and you’re looking for a black cat that isn’t there and you are blind… As Hegel said, “this is the night in which all cows are black and all cats are grey.” There is no differentiation.

I’m trying to bring this point home to you, for your consideration. You should not be afraid of any non Christian philosophy. We should not be apologetically presenting our position as though it were just as good as, or better, or a whole lot better. That’s not the issue. The issue is quite the opposite. Ours is alone the basis on which anything can be said intelligently about anything. And if you grant it that the other fellow could even find one fact and distinguish it from another fact, you’re making a fatal concession because then you are admitting that he can predicate to some extent. And if he can predicate intelligently to some extent then there isn’t any reason why he shouldn’t predicate all the way down and account for reality in a way that is as good yours, or maybe even better than yours. Then you are on this better or worse. You’re on probability and improbability.

– Cornelius Van Til, ‘Christ and Human Thought: Church Fathers Part 2‘ from 35:44