Category Archives: Philosophy and Christianity

Do You Have a Biblical Worldview?

Dearest hijas,

What is a Biblical worldview, and do you have one? A recent study by The American Culture and Faith Institute (ACFI) was seeking to determine how many Americans use the Bible as their filter for reality, to determine right from wrong, and to shape their beliefs, attitudes, and actions.

Shockingly, only 4% of millennials qualified to have a Biblical worldview. These are the next generation of pastors, teachers, elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and parents!

Here’s the link to the article:

https://answersingenesis.org/culture/study-shows-only-10-percent-americans-have-biblical-worldview/

Make sure your worldview is Biblical, mis hijas. It starts with a proper understanding that God is Creator, that you and I are creatures (the thing created). The world is not an emanation from God’s essence, one piece of God, if you like, but that the created world is entirely and irrevocably distinct from God. As creatures of God, we are capable of fellowship with God however.

It entails the absolute tripersonality of God. God is absolute personality, and because He is absolute, He is self-sufficient and self-existent, and therefore does not depend on anything else. He knows, He loves, He speaks. He is not just personal, but tripersonal, one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This has important philosophical implications and answers the age-old philosophical problem of the one and the many (universals and particulars). God is both one and many, and has made a universe that is both one and many.

As to the relationship between Creator and creature, the Bible’s description of this relationship is lordship. God is LORD, and creation is His servant. God’s Lordship entails His control, authority, and presence. God controls all things according to His will. His authority is His right to be obeyed. His presence is His nearness to His creation and His intimate relationships with it.

We also know that a Biblical worldview describes man’s condition. Everyone of us, dead and lost in sin, in rebellion against our Creator. Everyone of us in need of an answer to our sin problem; an answer that can only be found in an acceptance of Christ’s death on the cross in our behalf, as a substitute for the death we rightly deserve.

With love,
Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Are you confident of your knowledge?

Dear hijas,

As an aside from our series on radiometric dating, I encourage you to read Dr. Jason Lisle’s new blog post on epistemology: or how do you know you know, found here:

http://www.jasonlisle.com/2013/09/06/are-you-epistemologically-self-conscious/

It dovetails with our earlier series on philosophy and Christianity and is a good reminder of one of the many differences between the Christian worldview and the secular worldview on knowledge: where it comes from and how you can trust it.

Dr. Lisle asks a great question: “Are you epistemologically self-conscious?”

With love I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas

The Altogether Grand Other Who Speaks

Dear hijas,

The Judeo-Christian position for the answer to the problem of knowing is that of God’s self-existence, as well as self-contained knowledge existing in the triune Godhead before there was anything else. And by ‘anything else’, I mean everything that we see and observe on earth, in the skies with our telescopes, and under the seas with our cameras. This altogether grand Other, the infinite-personal God of Judeo-Christianity created ‘from nothing’ everything that is ‘there’, including man in His image. It is because He has spoken that the epistemological question is answered. The Judeo-Christian answer posits two levels of existence: God’s existence as self-contained, infinite, and personal, and man’s existence as derived, personal, and finite. We see the level of God’s knowledge as absolutely comprehensive, and the level of man’s knowledge which is not comprehensive, but derivative and reinterpretative. Our knowledge is rational because God is ultimately rational. So how does He speak?

Let me answer that question by telling a story. Suppose there is this altogether Grand Other who is omniscient in knowledge, omnipotent in power, omnibenevolent in love and goodness, perfect in every way our minds can conceive of perfection, existing as tri-unity: three Persons, one Godhead, sharing love and communion with each other before anything existed. Eternal, from which there is no cause, always having been there. Then suppose He created ‘from nothing’ everything that now exists, including man and woman and placed them on a rotating mass of ground (earth), spinning around a bigger mass of light(the sun), with other rotating and spinning masses in the skies above this man and woman He has created.

Now suppose, because He is infinite, everything else would be limited in contrast to His enough-ness, or infinite-ness. Man and woman are created as personal on the side of His personalness, yet finite as opposed to His infinite-ness. Would it be strange to think that this infinite, uncreated Personal, would not want to communicate to the created, limited personal to which He has created? To tell them of what He has done, the nature of the things around them, and something of Himself as their uncreated Creator? Of course, if this uncreated Personal were to communicate to this created personal, He would not exhaust Himself in His communication, but would tell her things that are true. He would not lie, for what would be the purpose?

It would also not be unexpected, if the uncreated Personal really cared for the created personal, to speak of things in a propositional nature; to communicate in the same way that the created personal communicates to other created personals. As a limited, finite reference point, the created personal if she began with herself, would not be able to know everything there is to know about everything if this uncreated Personal didn’t tell her those things. Of course, she wouldn’t know everything because that would make her God, wouldn’t it, but at minimum she would know those things that the uncreated Personal wanted her to know, and those things He wanted her to know would be true. Because He created the world she lives on, and the universe she lives in, He would also create in her a spirit of discovery; a rational mind to uncover other things about herself and the world around her. Her knowledge of those things would need to be in relation to Him; analogical to His knowledge though for them to be true to what is, and true to His creation of those things in the first place.

What we have in the above then, is exactly what the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, the Bible, claims for itself. It claims to be propositional revelation from the uncreated Personal to the created personal in verbalized form. God speaks, and we have His knowledge as non-created Personal, perfect and infinite, to tell us what He wants us to know as the created, finite personal.

Would it be wise to listen to what He has to say?

(Source: Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1984).

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad

Is Anyone ‘There’ to Speak?

Dear hijas,

Is there anyone there to speak? What a simple and profound question. Does man, being finite, gather enough facts, enough particulars, and try to make her own universals, her own overarching unifying truth? Can she do this with her reasoning powers alone? Where does she start? Her life is only 80-90 years, can she just begin with herself? Or must she go back further than herself, gathering the knowledge of these things from past generations? But where does she stop unless she goes back to some beginning of all things? Is there an answer somewhere back there along the line, or must she go back to when it all began? And what beginning does she choose, an impersonal beginning, or a personal one?

You see, she’s trying to answer the question of who she is, of ‘what’ is this world she is born into, of what purpose or meaning for her existence, if any, there is, and how she knows. What does it all mean, what can I believe is true, and what is not true? This is the epistemological problem she faces, trying to make sense of all the particulars in her life, and tying them into one overarching unity. The one and the many, particulars and universals, diversity and unity. Is there an answer?

There is no satisfactory answer if she chooses the impersonal beginning. If she’s honest with herself, and this is right where she is, that’s what has caused the confusion in the first place. But if she begins with the personal, and the Judeo-Christian infinite-personal God, then there is someone there to speak. He’s personal, on the same side as she is personal, yet He’s infinite, to her finiteness. He is the creator of all else, and therefore does speak. He speaks about Himself, His character, His attributes, so that she can know who He is, not exhaustively but truly, and He speaks about history and the cosmos, so that she can know things about herself and the world around her. She has an answer to the nature of reality, to who she is, and to her existence and place in this vast universe. He speaks and answers her questions about meaning and purpose, about values and ethics, not exhaustively but truly. He speaks and answers her most deep and profound questions about life and death, and what happens after death. His answers bring the satisfaction that was missing for her. They make sense and are truly fulfilling. They bring peace to her troubled soul.

It is on the side of the personal-infinite God of the Judeo-Christian system, on the basis of propositional, verbalized revelation, that God speaks and provides these answers to her epistemological problem, the problem of knowing. He is the Creator, she is the creature, and it is on this basis that what He says will be true to what is. There will be no error, for everything comes from Him. The question of knowing is solved in Him and in what He has spoken and she can rest, satisfied that His knowledge is perfect knowledge.

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad

Man’s Greatest Need

Dear hijas,

Modern man doesn’t ‘know’ who she is. One of the biggest questions she faces in life is to try and find an answer to ‘who’ am I? She either struggles with this question all her life in some form or another, or she faces it once in a while, thinks she knows the answer, and pushes it away, moving on with daily living. But for what purpose?

The more thoughtful of her kind will realize that if she is just the byproduct of a long impersonal evolutionary process, kicked up out of the pond scum by blind chance, then in reality, she’s nothing more than a cog in the machine; a nothing really, in an empty, meaningless universe. She sees only silence in the things that man desperately needs most—values, ethics, purpose, and meaning. Many people come to this sad state of affairs. The suicide rates all over the world are testament to some aspect of this. No purpose, no meaning, nothing to live for. Might as well die.

This question of ‘knowing’ who she is, is part and parcel to the epistemological question we’ve been discussing. Her greatest need is to ‘know’ herself; to ‘know’ what purpose she is here on earth, what meaning there is to her existence. And no matter how much she knows she needs these things, she comes to the conclusion that there is only silence.

Her greatest ‘need’ is to know whether there is anyone adequately ‘there’ in the universe to speak. Her deepest longing and question becomes, “Can someone please say something?”

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad

The heart of the Epistemological Problem

Plato-Raphael's

Dear hijas,

It was Schaeffer who said that the Greek philosopher Plato wrestled with it most and had the greatest sensitivity grappling with the problem of knowledge. Plato understood that in the area of epistemology or one’s theory of knowledge, ‘there must be more than particulars if there is to be meaning.’

We’re speaking here of the universal problem all the way back to antiquity of the relationship of the one and the many, or universals and particulars.

Stated another way, in the area of knowledge, “Philosophers see in the world certain particulars as well as a basic underlying unity. For instance, many particular dog breeds exist: dachshunds, Dobermans, terriers, pit bulls, etc. Yet all of these have a basic unity, which we might call ‘dogness.’ They are all members of the one biological family known as Canidae. The many dogs are related by their one dogness” (Gary DeMar, ed., Pushing the Antithesis: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen, American Vision, 2007).

Schaeffer states it this way, “In the area of knowledge you have particulars, by which we mean the individual ‘things’ which we see in the world. At any given moment, I am faced with thousands, indeed literally millions of particulars, just in what I see with a glance of my eyes. What are the universals which give these particulars meaning? This is the heart of the problem of epistemology and the problem of knowing” (Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1984).

The issue boils down simply to this; what is it that ties the universals to the particulars, the one and the many? What overarching unity or unities makes sense of each of the particulars so that we can say we truly know something? Is it human experience? In other words, “I know it because I’ve experienced it?” Is it perhaps science? Is scientific consensus the source of all knowledge? “Science said it, I believe it, therefore it’s true” mentality? Or is it something else?

What we have to remember is that we are trying to find large enough universals to cover the particulars so that we can know we know. We must find a basic unity in order to organize and understand the various particulars that are part of our human experience so that we are sure of being sure. This in essence is the epistemological problem in a nutshell.

Philosophers have struggled with this for eons, with various proposals depending on the philosopher. Plato’s answer was the concept of ‘ideals’. He tried to find his universals in this concept of ‘ideals’; that somewhere there is an ideal dog, for example,  that would cover all the particular dogs that exist. Anything outside of this was not a dog. Today it is ‘science’, or the ‘scientific method’ that enamors man’s heart as an answer to the epistemological problem. Man thinks that ‘science’ has all the answers for truly knowing something; an exalted position from which there is no dissent. Yet, are these enough to explain all there is to know about everything, to tie the universals and and all the particulars together? Many people would say “No, not even science is the complete answer.”

The question before us still remains: how do you know and how do you know you know? If we would but listen, it is the Judeo-Christian system of the infinite-personal God on the high order of trinity that answers the question of the one and the many.

With love, I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas!

Epistemology: How we know what we know

Dear hijas,

Moving on to the third area of philosophical and religious thought, or the third component of a person’s worldview, we come to the area of epistemology (from episteme, knowledge, and logos, word or discourse).

We are attempting to answer the question of ‘how we know that we know’, or ‘how we know what we know’. Epistemology addresses questions of truth, belief, justification, and the origin, nature, methods, and limits of knowledge.

Philosophers since the ancient Greeks and before have attempted to answer this very important question, grappling with this problem of knowledge, trying to discover what we know and how we come to know it.

Epistemological questions can be as follows:

1) What is the nature of truth and of objectivity?

2) What is the nature of belief and of knowledge? What are their relationships? Can we know and yet not believe?

3) What are the standards that justify beliefs? How do we know what we know? What is the proof or evidence that is acceptable?

4) What are the proper procedures for science and discovery? How are they evaluated? What standards do they offer? (Gary Demar, ed., Pushing the Antithesis: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen, American Vision, Powder Springs, GA, 2007).

As in the other two areas we’ve discussed of metaphysics and morals, there is both the ‘problem’ and then ‘solutions’. We’ll start with the problem, and then see out of the few solutions, which one fits the world of human experience and the universe we find ourselves in. We’ll discover that each of us as ‘philosophers’ must establish our theory of knowledge on something. What that ‘something’ is, will be the topic of our next posts.

As always, I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas!

Made in the Image of God, but man fundamentally changed

heaven and earth

Dear hijas,

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1.1).

All things came into being by Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:3).

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him (Col. 1:16).

We’ve been speaking to the question of the moral necessity, the second area of philosophical and religious thought. Specifically, in our last post, we found that the question of man’s cruelty to his fellow-man was not answered completely. We said that the personal answer of man being created in the image of God gives meaning and an absolute standard for man in terms of right and wrong because they are based on God’s character. We found that man is still cruel. We discovered though that man wasn’t made this way, but fundamentally changed himself. The question before us now, is how this happened.

The Judeo-Christian answer to the question of the moral necessity and man’s cruelty starts from Gen. 1:1 quoted above. The infinite-personal God of the universe created all else, including man, both male and female. Both man and woman and all of God’s created order was created perfect without sin; cruelty, jealousy, hatred, death, disease, corruption, any and all evil of any sort. At the end of God’s six-day creative work, He pronounced it ‘very good’. It was whole, complete, without flaw, just as the designer wanted it to be. So what happened?

Schaeffer puts it this way:

There was a space-time, historic change in man. There is a discontinuity and not a continuity in man. Man, made in the image of God and not programmed, turned by choice from his proper integration point at a certain time in history. When he did this, man became something that he previously was not, and the dilemma of man becomes a true moral problem rather than a metaphysical one. Man, at a certain point of history, changed himself, and hence stands, in his cruelty, in discontinuity with what he was, and we have a true moral situation: morals suddenly exist. Everything hangs upon the fact that man is abnormal now, in contrast to what he originally was (Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1984).

This historic, space-time change in man is referred to as the Fall (see Gen. 3). Man fell from his original created perfection and is not what he once was. This abnormality explains man’s cruelty, his jealousy and hatred for others of his kind. It explains why man made in the image of God doesn’t mean that God is a bad God. It explains why man can be both noble and cruel at the same time.

So man is now abnormal from what he once was still means that he is abnormal still yet today, right? Man is not just metaphysically finite, but truly morally guilty. Can man get back to that state from where this turn happened? Is there a solution to take man back to where he once was before he became abnormal?

It is here, as Schaeffer describes, “that the substitutionary, propitiatory death of Christ is needed and fits in…we need a solution for our true moral guilt before the absolutely good God who is there.” That solution is Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf.

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad

Made in the Image of God? Why cruelty and evil then?

Dear hijas,

We’ve been speaking of the ‘personal’ answer to the philosophical question of moral necessity. That on the ‘personal’ side of the equation in contrast to that which is ‘impersonal’, there is an answer in the infinite-personal God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures who has made man in His image. It is in this infinite-personal God that morality is rooted and has meaning because God’s character is the standard by which to measure absolute right and wrong, nobility and cruelty.

But this leaves us with a question, doesn’t it? On the noble side of things we can see that man is noble, cares for his fellow-man and the things in the world around him because this is how we envision God to be. We envision God to be a good God, a caring God, a loving God, but on the cruelty side we find we are somewhat perplexed, quite greatly perplexed perhaps, and the question becomes “If man is created in the image of God, and yet is so cruel to his fellow-man, then doesn’t that imply that God Himself is cruel also?” In other words, if this personal-infinite God was the one that brought everything that exists into being, including man, and man is made in God’s image, then because we find man cruel it must follow that God is cruel as well.

How would you answer that question? It’s a very legitimate and logical question from the premise.

To answer this question, we might break it down into a couple of follow-up questions. Has man always been this way, or was there a change in God or man that brought about the current cruelty of man we see today and read in our history books?

The Judeo-Christian answer is that man as he is now, is not what he always was. Man has not always been cruel and evil. There was indeed a change in man, not God. God has never changed, but man in fact changed quite drastically. Who changed man then? Did God change man, or did man change himself? If it was God who changed man, then He must still be a cruel God.

Schaeffer answers it this way, “…man created by God as personal has changed himself–he stands at the point of discontinuity rather than continuity not because God changed him but because he changed himself. Man as he now is by his own choice is not what he intrinsically was. In this case we can understand that man is now cruel, but that God is not a bad God. This is precisely the Judaeo-Christian position”(Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL, 1984).

As to what that change was, and how it was that man changed himself, we’ll need to wait for our next post.

As always, I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas

The Moral Necessity: the ‘Personal’ Answer

Dear hijas,

We’ve seen that in regards to morality, the evolutionary impersonal answer of time plus chance plus the impersonal, or ‘-the force be with you-‘ type answer in a couple of the world’s major religions doesn’t satisfactorily answer the question of man’s dilemma. Starting from the impersonal gives no answer to how objective right and wrong, noble and cruel, finite yet personal, have any meaning whatsoever. It was Sartre who said that ‘no finite point has any meaning unless it has an infinite reference point.’ This is just as true in the area of morals as it is in the area of metaphysics. Finite man has no place to rest any objective or absolute meaning or standard to the words ‘noble’, ‘cruel’, ‘right’, ‘wrong’ without some kind of infinite reference point to give those words substantive, objective content. This is huge, and you should never allow someone in your apologetic endeavors to miss this point and evade the implication. There is ‘no’ answer starting with anything impersonal; it’s just ‘what is’.

If you recall, it was the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), the French philosopher, aristocrat, politician and writer whose cruel and libertine sexuality and lifestyle the term “sadist” comes, living during the French Revolution (1789-1799) who said, “What is, is right.” Can you see that starting with the impersonal, that is what man boils it down to, “Whatever happens to be, is right?” This is the natural outflow starting with the impersonal beginning. The problem though is that the Marquis de Sade could just as easily have said, “What is, is wrong”; for he had no place to rest his definitions of right and wrong, no standard or infinite reference point in which to give those words any meaning. As Schaeffer concludes, “If you begin with the impersonal, the universe is totally silent concerning any such words.”

Yet, we do find on the ‘personal’ side of the equation, a titanic answer! Starting with the personal there ‘is’ an answer. And it is an answer to man as he is and as he aspires to be. It gives justification to man as he finds himself, to his aspirations and moral motions, to his sense of ‘ought’ and ‘ought not’.  Man finds an infinite reference point to rest a definition of objective right and objective wrong when he begins with the ‘personal’.

What we are speaking to here with the ‘personal’ answer is that man has been created by that which is personal rather than merely being part of a total, final, impersonal everything-there-is. That ‘personal’ is the infinite-personal Judeo-Christian God of the Bible. That man, made in the image of this infinite God, was created finite as opposed to God’s infiniteness, and yet with personality in the same way that God is personal. And because God’s character is the moral absolute of the universe, there truly is objective right and objective wrong. Morals do exist because they’re based on the character of God from which all evil is excluded.

As Schaeffer says, “It is not that there is a moral absolute behind God that binds man and God, because that which is farthest back is always finally God. Rather, it is God himself and his character which is the moral absolute of the universe.”

Schaeffer further concludes:

Again, as in the area of metaphysics, we must understand that this is not simply the best answer–it is the only answer in morals for man in his dilemma. The only answer in the area of morals, as true morals, including the problem of social evil, turns upon the fact of God’s being there. If God is not there (not just the word ‘God,’ but God himself being there, the God of the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures), there is no answer at all to the problem of evil and morals. Again, it is not only necessary that he be there, but that he is not silent…He has spoken, in verbalized, propositional form, and he has told us what his character is  (Francis A. Schaeffer, ‘He is There and He is not Silent’, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL 1984).

So we have an answer to man being finite, yet personal, and we have an answer for the existence and justification for morality, a standard for right and wrong in God’s character itself, and for man’s moral motions, his sense of ‘ought’ and ‘ought not’, but do we have an answer for man being both noble and cruel?

Yes, we do, but that will have to wait for our next post.

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad