Archive for the ‘faith precedes knowledge’ Category

People demand proof for God. But the infinite personal God is not like an impersonal finite object

October 4, 2009

People demand proof for God. But the infinite personal God is not like an impersonal finite object. The relationship of faith in God is one of personal trust; it’s not like proving water boils at 100%. In a relationship such as marriage, trust is essential. There are good reasons to trust my wife but to demand proof of her fidelity would not be a sign of a healthy trusting relationship.

Faith in the God of the Bible is not without its evidences and these should be sought out just as I should get to know whether a potential spouse is trustworthy. But relationships are built on trust not continual ‘proof’. The reasonableness of the trust that is placed in a person grows in the context of the relationship.

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The futility of running from God

September 7, 2009

…the only creature that can prove anything cannot prove its own insignificance without depriving the proof of any proof-value. Any radical depreciation of man involves an equally radical depreciation of the scientific thinking which supplies the supposed evidence. (T.E. Jessop)

In other words, if you reduce man to a beast, If the brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile, then all his theories – including this one – are worthless

R.Abba, nature and Authority of the Bible, p.109

Rejecting God’s revelation and starting with reason, man is left undermining the very possibility of any knowledge at all. Faith in the God of Scripture is the precondition of any knowledge

There is a kind of seeing that does not see

September 6, 2009

There is a kind of seeing that does not see. We can gaze vacantly in the direction of an object but we do not really see it since our minds are otherwise occupied. Or consider how one person may walk through a wood and see nothing but trees, but the trained botanist sees here an alder, there an ash. So to in the spiritual realm. One person hears the gospel but his mind is not on it – he is preoccupied and it makes no impression. He is like a man who looks but only vacantly. To really see his mind must be made to focus on the Word of God. This is the work of the Spirit.

Why should humans imagine the universe is intelligible?

September 3, 2009

It is the most persistent and greatest adventure in human history, this search to understand the universe, how it works, and where it came from. It is difficult to imagine that a handful of residents of a small planet circling an insignificant star in a small galaxy have as their aim a complete understanding of the entire universe, a small speck of creation truly believing it is capable of comprehending the whole…

(Murray Gell-Mann)

No science doth make known the first principles whereon it buildeth

September 3, 2009

Because we maintain, that in Scripture we are taught all things necessary unto salvation ; hereupon very childishly it is by some demanded, what Scripture can teach us the sacred authority of the Scripture, upon the knowledge whereof our whole faith and salvation dependeth ? As though there were any kind of science in the world which leadeth men unto knowledge, without presupposing a number of things already known. ; but they are always either taken as plain and manifest in themselves, or as proved and granted already, some former knowledge having made them evident.

Richard Hooker, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity,  Book 3, ch.8

Knowledge Requires an Omniscient Knower

September 3, 2009

…there must be comprehensive knowledge somewhere if there is to be any true knowledge anywhere but this comprehensive knowledge need not and cannot be in us; it must be in God.

Cornelius Van Til, Defense of the Faith, P&R, 1967, p.41

History – Needs the interpretative key of faith

August 26, 2009

Men wiser and more learned than I have discovered in history a plot, a rhythm, a predetermined pattern. I can see only one emergency following upon another as wave follows upon wave, only one great fact with respect to which, since it is unique, there can be no generalisations, only one safe rule for the historian: that he should recognise in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen. This is not a doctrine of cynicism and despair.

H.A.L. Fisher in Williamson, HR, Enigmas of History, (Michael Joseph, 1957)

Yet Fisher then goes on to say:

The fact of progress is written plain and large on the page of history: but progress is not a law of nature. The ground gained by one generation may be lost by the next. The thoughts of men may flow into channels which lead to disaster and barbarism.

So he maintains faith in ‘progress’ despite the evidence.

Faith the precondition of historical knowledge

August 26, 2009

It is… impossible to interpret history at all without a principle of interpretation which history as such does not yield. The various principles of interpretation current in modern culture, such as the idea of progress or the Marxist concept of an historical dialectic, are all principles of historical interpretation introduced by faith.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man, London, 1941, vol. 1, p.151

Which makes the following a little naive:

I had a very clear idea of what history was. History is an account of what happened in the past. Learning history, therefore, requires knowledge of events.

Margaret Thatcher

In the first volume of her memoirs, Margaret Thatcher wrote of her dissatisfaction with the report produced in 1989 for the teaching of history under the national curriculum: “I was appalled. It put the emphasis on interpretation and enquiry as against content and knowledge.”

But was her real concern that the ‘interpretation’ offered in the draft national curriculum for history was left-wing? History can’t really be taught as mere content without interpretation. By even selecting what is worthy of study, something that must be done, an interpretive decision has been a priori.

Faith precedes knowledge

August 6, 2009

Faith is caused by the shining of the Sun of Truth upon the eyes of our minds, and this is what makes men rational. One cannot see the sun unless its light shines on the eyes; it is not otherwise with truth.

Alan Richardson, Christian Apologetics, 1955, p.77-78