The Enlightenment is Dead: Chapter 5 – Unity, Diversity, and Covenantal Knowledge: The Solution to the Problem of Knowledge

If we can't get outside of language, then . . .


Given that all facts are interpreted facts, if the human mind were autonomous, then everything outside the human mind would be unintelligible. The human mind would be trapped in a solipsistic cage, unable to know the irrational, external world.  On the other hand, given  that all facts are interpreted facts, there can be a world of intelligible facts external to human cognition only if there is an Absolute Knower, one who has interpreted the facts of the world prior to human interpretation.   The Absolute Knower would have to be independent of the human mind, but also the source of the human mind and the particulars of sense experience in order to provide a bridge between human thinking and the facts of the external world.    Continue reading

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The Enlightenment is Dead: Chapter 4 – From Modernism to Postmodernism: The Transformation of ‘Better Living through Chemistry’

Better Living Through Chemistry

Materialism and the Crisis of Meaningful Existence

The beginning of the twentieth century was the best of times and the worst of times for atheism.  Science was making stupendous discoveries and technological advances faster than any time in history, and science was interpreted as a product of atheism.   Darwinism had triumphed in the highest levels of all the institutions that governed the world.  The Great War (World War I) was welcomed as an opportunity for a great evolutionary leap forward for humanity by culling the weak and allowing the fit to triumph.  Yet the scene of massive misery, destruction, and death caused by the war was revolting.  The triumph of atheism that was supposed to be a triumph for humanity forced intellectuals to confront Nietzschean nihilism.  The term “crisis” became the word of the day among academicians in Europe, which called for an existential philosophy that addressed whether human life had any meaning.  Max Scheler wrote, “In our ten-thousand year history, we are the first time period in which the human being has become fully and totally ‘problematic’; the first time period in which the human being no longer knows who he or she is, but also knows that he doesn’t know.”[1]  The machines built by science threatened to destroy the self, the spirit, the soul.

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The Enlightenment is Dead: Chapter 3  –  Darwin, Dewey, and Relativism

Darwin’s Positivist Epistemology

Despite the failed attempts of Enlightenment epistemology to account for science, an atheistic view of science came to dominate the scientific establishment and other academic disciplines in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  This triumph came through a scientist rather than a philosopher, but his attraction was his application of a philosophical idea to the science of biology.  Darwin is credited by most intellectual secularists nowadays with having destroyed the design argument for God by discovering a natural mechanism known as “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest” that explains away all need to see intelligent design in nature.  What is not generally known is that Darwin’s devotees in the latter part of the nineteenth century generally did not accept natural selection.  They believed in Darwin’s claim of naturalistic transmutation of species, but they looked for their own mechanisms.  Darwin didn’t know about genes since they had not been discovered yet.  Not until the neo-Darwinian synthesis of genetic theory with natural selection in the 1930’s and 40’s did natural selection become widely accepted by evolutionists.[1] Continue reading

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The Enlightenment is Dead: Chapter 2  – Killing God and Killing Knowledge:  Descartes to Nietzsche

Descartes and the Beginning of Secularism

René Descartes (1596-1650) can be given a great deal of the credit for initiating modern philosophy and modern atheism.  His philosophy marks, as those who endorse this philosophical change call it, the transition from the Age of Faith, or Age of Authority, to the Age of Reason.  Descartes wrote during the Protestant Reformation, when there was a crisis of religious authority prompted by the rejection of the authority of the Roman Catholic Church and its scholastic philosophy that merged Aristotelianism with Christianity.  Although Descartes was a Roman Catholic, like many in the Protestant Reformation, he sought to overthrow the intellectual dominance of Aristotelianism.  Like the Protestant scientists, he insisted that the material world could be described mathematically.  But his approach did more to encourage a search for a purely secular foundation for knowledge than promoting a Christianity free from Aristotelianism.    Rather than really being a move from faith to reason, the transition in thinking is better characterized as one from the autonomous authority of God’s rationality to the autonomous authority of Man’s rationality.   As I will defend more fully below, science had its origin in the Middle Ages, a product of the belief in the rationality of the Creator.  Yet beginning with Descartes, philosophers sought to justify scientific knowledge on more and more consistently secular grounds.    Continue reading

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The Enlightenment is Dead: Chapter 1 – The Secularist’s Epistemological Dilemma: Deriving Rationality from the Non-Rational


“If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the question, ‘Why should anything go right; even observation and deduction?  Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic?  They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?’  The young sceptic says, ‘I have a right to think for myself.’  But the old sceptic, the complete sceptic, says, ‘I have no right to think for myself.  I have no right to think at all.’”

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy[1]

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Does Presuppositionalism Confuse Ontology and Epistemology?

An excellent article by James Anderson about a frequent claim of Classical apologists against the Presuppositionalist view of apologetics:

Occasionally one hears classical apologists (especially those of a Thomist persuasion) claim that presuppositionalists are guilty of “confusing ontology and epistemology” or “conf…

Source: Does Presuppositionalism Confuse Ontology and Epistemology?

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How Howe Misunderstands Presuppositionalism

Dr. Richard Howe, professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, was interviewed in a video posted on April 9, 2020, to YouTube under the title “A Sound Refutation of Presuppositionalism with Dr. Richard Howe” (here).  This is my response in defense of Presuppositionalism.  (Quotes from Howe are in italics.)

Summary:  Howe claims that the Presuppositional approach is fideistic, rejecting the appropriateness of giving arguments for God’s existence; but Presuppositionalists offer arguments anyway, in which case they are acting like Classical apologists.  My response is that Presuppositionalists, particularly the two main ones that Howe discusses, Van Til and Bahnsen, very clearly do not reject giving arguments for God’s existence.  The propriety of giving an argument for God’s existence is not the issue between the Presuppositional approach and Classical approach.  Howe never shows an awareness of the real complaint of Van Til and Bahnsen against the Classical view, which is that the Aristotelian view of the Unmoved Mover, knowledge, and causality that are adopted by Aquinas is contrary to the Christian view of God, knowledge, and causality.  The problem is not that Aquinas offered arguments for God’s existence, or that he appealed to causality to prove God’s existence, but that he offered faulty arguments. Continue reading

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God is Necessary for Civil Government and Law

This is an excerpt from my essay “Christian Civilization is the Only Civilization – Part II: A Critique of Specific Disciplines and their Christian Reconstruction” under the topic “Civil Government and Law.”

Justice Lifts the Nations

Cornelius Van Til has said, “There is no alternative but that of theonomy and autonomy”[1] – either God’s law or man’s self-made law is the ultimate source of law for society.  If man is going to act like God and make his own law, he has two basic choices:  Abstract unity or abstract diversity.  Modern philosophy of law reflects this in presenting the two basic choices as between natural law, claiming that law derives from abstract unity, and positivist law, claiming that law derives from abstract diversity.[2] Continue reading

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God is Necessary for Art

This is an excerpt from my essay “Christian Civilization is the Only Civilization – Part II: A Critique of Specific Disciplines and their Christian Reconstruction” under the topic “Art.”

Janus Beads String

Defining art has been a perennial problem, but regardless of what the definition should be, regardless of whether the definition is in the form of necessary and sufficient conditions or in the form of family resemblances à la Wittgenstein, defining art is impossible in terms of non-Christian philosophy because defining anything is impossible if God does not exist.  Predication is impossible if God does not exist. To define art is to impose a unifying, abstract category on a diversity of sensible phenomena.  It is a matter of relating a unity to diversity.  It is flatly contradictory to begin with particulars that, by hypothesis, exclude abstract universals, and then try to relate these abstract particulars to abstract universal.[1]  There must be an eternal concrete universal in order for particulars and universals to be able to relate to one another. Continue reading

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Another Round of the Thomist Rumor Mill against Van Til: Keith A. Mathison’s “Christianity and Van Tillianism”

PDF version

In the August 2019 issue of Ligonier Ministries’s magazine Tabletalk, Keith Mathison writes a lengthy essay titled “Christianity and Van Tillianism,” which is written from the perspective of Reformed Thomism in criticism of Cornelius Van Til’s apologetic program.   He has republished it in PDF format at as well.  J.V. Fesko published a book earlier this year, which I reviewed here, which also criticizes Van Til from the position of Reformed Thomism.  Mathison makes many of the same arguments that Fesko and other Reformed Thomists, and more broadly, Protestant Thomists, have made against Van Til.  Mathison continues the legacy of R.C. Sproul, who founded Ligonier Ministries, in defending classical apologetics against Van Til’s presuppositional school.  Mathison begins with a gracious introduction in which he acknowledges that Van Til was a brother in Christ, was dealing with complex issues, that neither he nor Van Til or infallible, and that we should not become mindless cheerleaders for either side.  My comments here are offered in hopes of furthering a thoughtful discussion. Continue reading

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