Gordon H. Clark on Logic and Scripture

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Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
I do agree with him on this matter except that Scripture is "axiom".

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 11:10:42 EST-----

Is there a particular aspect of this article you question?
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
Is there a particular aspect of this article you question?

Not at all. I have been reading Clark more and more and find that I naturally gravitate to his positions. I know a lot of people have not really read much by Clark and I thought I would post something by him in the area of apologetics. In another thread where people were to vote on their apologetic method - I chose Presuppostionalism/Clark.

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 11:48:43 EST-----

I do agree with him on this matter except that Scripture is "axiom".

Is there another axiom which is the beginning point for the Christian?
 

Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
Is there a particular aspect of this article you question?

Not at all. I have been reading Clark more and more and find that I naturally gravitate to his positions. I know a lot people have not really read much by Clark and I thought I would post something by him in the area of apologetics. In another thread where people were to vote on their apologetic method - I chose Presuppostionalism/Clark.

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 11:48:43 EST-----

I do agree with him on this matter except that Scripture is "axiom".

Is there another axiom which is the beginning point for the Christian?


Yes, I think so. Both General and Special Revelation presuppose reason for intelligibility. See attached:
 

Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
PS. I would highly recommend a thoughtful reading of Philosophical Foundations by Surrendra Gangadean. [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Philosophical-Foundation-Critical-Analysis-Beliefs/dp/0761839909/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239465559&sr=8-1]Amazon.com: Philosophical Foundation: A Critical Analysis of Basic Beliefs: Surrendra Gangadean: Books[/ame]
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
Is there a particular aspect of this article you question?

Not at all. I have been reading Clark more and more and find that I naturally gravitate to his positions. I know a lot people have not really read much by Clark and I thought I would post something by him in the area of apologetics. In another thread where people were to vote on their apologetic method - I chose Presuppostionalism/Clark.

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 11:48:43 EST-----

I do agree with him on this matter except that Scripture is "axiom".

Is there another axiom which is the beginning point for the Christian?


Yes, I think so. Both General and Special Revelation presuppose reason for intelligibility. See attached:

Am I correct in concluding from that article that human reason is the beginning point, and everything else follows from that axiom?
 

Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
Not at all. I have been reading Clark more and more and find that I naturally gravitate to his positions. I know a lot people have not really read much by Clark and I thought I would post something by him in the area of apologetics. In another thread where people were to vote on their apologetic method - I chose Presuppostionalism/Clark.

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 11:48:43 EST-----



Is there another axiom which is the beginning point for the Christian?


Yes, I think so. Both General and Special Revelation presuppose reason for intelligibility. See attached:

Am I correct in concluding from that article that human reason is the beginning point, and everything else follows from that axiom?


Clark argues that logic is not mere human reason. Neither do I. I don't think Clark would argue that the laws of thought are merely human. So I would rather say reason is presupposed necessarily (ontologically) as the starting point. You don't choose reason. You are by nature "rational".
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
Clark argues that logic is not mere human reason. Neither do I. I don't think Clark would argue that the laws of thought are merely human. So I would rather say reason is presupposed necessarily (ontologically) as the starting point. You don't choose reason.

Does the axiom of human reason pertain to fallen human reason or regenerated human reason?
 

Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
Clark argues that logic is not mere human reason. Neither do I. I don't think Clark would argue that the laws of thought are merely human. So I would rather say reason is presupposed necessarily (ontologically) as the starting point. You don't choose reason.

Does the axiom of human reason pertain to fallen human reason or regenerated human reason?

Reason itself is not fallen. The Fall affects the use of reason and issue of integrity to think and see what is clearly revealed so as to leave us without excuse.

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 12:20:25 EST-----

I don't mean to take away from the thread on Clark. I was just saying I do think he contributes but falls short just as Van Till contributes and falls short.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Clark argues that logic is not mere human reason. Neither do I. I don't think Clark would argue that the laws of thought are merely human. So I would rather say reason is presupposed necessarily (ontologically) as the starting point. You don't choose reason.

Does the axiom of human reason pertain to fallen human reason or regenerated human reason?

Reason itself is not fallen. The Fall affects the use of reason and issue of integrity to think and see what is clearly revealed so as to leave us without excuse.

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 12:20:25 EST-----

I don't mean to take away from the thread on Clark. I was just saying I do think he contributes but falls short just as Van Till contributes and falls short.

Short of...?
 

Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
Does the axiom of human reason pertain to fallen human reason or regenerated human reason?

Reason itself is not fallen. The Fall affects the use of reason and issue of integrity to think and see what is clearly revealed so as to leave us without excuse.

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 12:20:25 EST-----

I don't mean to take away from the thread on Clark. I was just saying I do think he contributes but falls short just as Van Till contributes and falls short.

Short of...?

Short in the area of apologetics in showing the inexcusability of unbelief. They don't go far enough in showing the clarity of General Revelation which shuts up all in unbelief.
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
This may be an area of agreement between Clark and Van Til.

Cornelius Van Til
An Introduction to Systematic Theology
pp. 190-1

Over against both the rationalism rejected by Barth and Brunner, and the irrationalism affirmed by them, the Reformed Faith has set the idea that we must begin with the actuality of the book. We must not pretend that we have established the possibility of the book and the necessity of it in terms of a philosophy that we did not get from the book. We have as Christians indeed learned with Calvin to interpret ourselves in terms of the book, and that on the authority of the book, and then we have looked to the book for the interpretation of the meaning of facts. We do not speak of the denotative definition of the facts of the Christian revelation. We know nothing but such facts as are what the book, the authoritative revelation of God, says they are. And we challenge unbelievers by saying that unless the facts are what the Bible says they are, they have no meaning at all.
 

Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
This may be an area of agreement between Clark and Van Til.

Cornelius Van Til
An Introduction to Systematic Theology
pp. 190-1

Over against both the rationalism rejected by Barth and Brunner, and the irrationalism affirmed by them, the Reformed Faith has set the idea that we must begin with the actuality of the book. We must not pretend that we have established the possibility of the book and the necessity of it in terms of a philosophy that we did not get from the book. We have as Christians indeed learned with Calvin to interpret ourselves in terms of the book, and that on the authority of the book, and then we have looked to the book for the interpretation of the meaning of facts. We do not speak of the denotative definition of the facts of the Christian revelation. We know nothing but such facts as are what the book, the authoritative revelation of God, says they are. And we challenge unbelievers by saying that unless the facts are what the Bible says they are, they have no meaning at all.

Yes, I do think they agree here. That is why I don't see much difference between Van Til and Clark on a basic level.

I think we have to be careful to not equate the use of reason with rationalism though. Rational Presuppositionalism denies both Rationalism (Descarte) and Fideism (Clark/Van Til).

RP ".. applies reason as a test for meaning to what is presupposed in a dispute." (See Attached)
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
RP ".. applies reason as a test for meaning to what is presupposed in a dispute." (See Attached)

And how do we know if what reason determines is true knowledge? What is it tested against? If it is tested against reason itself, then reason is the starting point. If it is tested against Scripture, then Scripture is the starting point.
 

Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
RP ".. applies reason as a test for meaning to what is presupposed in a dispute." (See Attached)

And how do we know if what reason determines is true knowledge? What is it tested against? If it is tested against reason itself, then reason is the starting point. If it is tested against Scripture, then Scripture is the starting point.


Example: If by reason we can clearly see that matter is not eternal (it is contradictory) or that not all is spirit (Hinduism), then do you say this is only true because the Bible says the world is created?

Consider how Paul speaks of General Revelation as revealing the Divine nature and attributes (being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth). Can naturalists and Hindus know this? Ought they to know this? Are they excusable?
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
Example: If by reason we can clearly see that matter is not eternal (it is contradictory) or that not all is spirit (Hinduism), then do you say this is only true because the Bible says the world is created?

How can reason know that matter is not eternal? Reason would have to know all matter in all time into the future. Reason may know that this specific "matter" held in the hand is not eternal, but how can it know that for all matter? There may be something buried 100 miles underground which always has been and always will be.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
RP ".. applies reason as a test for meaning to what is presupposed in a dispute." (See Attached)

And how do we know if what reason determines is true knowledge? What is it tested against? If it is tested against reason itself, then reason is the starting point. If it is tested against Scripture, then Scripture is the starting point.

Tested against which scripture? If you say the Bible then the next question is why the Bible and not some other version of scripture.

CT
 

Beth Ellen Nagle

Puritan Board Senior
Example: If by reason we can clearly see that matter is not eternal (it is contradictory) or that not all is spirit (Hinduism), then do you say this is only true because the Bible says the world is created?

How can reason know that matter is not eternal? Reason would have to know all matter in all time into the future. Reason may know that this specific "matter" held in the hand is not eternal, but how can it know that for all matter? There may be something buried 100 miles underground which always has been and always will be.

Due to time restraints for now (cleaning house :D) I will just share this excerpt: (source_MM.htm)

4. Given the assumption that all is matter certain implications follow necessarily. Consider the following: the origin of the cosmos, the origin of life, the destiny of man, human equality, the origin of thought, the good, freedom, rationality, political authority. These are important parts of a materialist worldview and answers are derived by reason seeking consistency and are not and cannot be a matter of experience.

5. The first argument against materialism is based on the relation of the most fundamental feature of the physical universe (change) and our most basic concept (eternal).
major premise: if the material world were eternal it would be self-maintaining
minor premise: the material world is not self-maintaining
conclusion : the material world is not eternal
Is this argument sound: is it valid and are the premises true?

6. The major premise assumes 1) that there must be something eternal and what is eternal is not dependent on anything for its continuing existence. If all is matter then matter must be eternal. 2) that if something is self-maintaining it will continue without any change or if it changes it is a matter of recycling.

7. There are no unique events in an eternal being (see earlier discussion).

8. The reason for the minor premise: 1) the physical universe is highly differentiated in terms of hot and cold 2) these differences interact 3) the interaction continues until sameness is reached 4) sameness remains sameness; it cannot return to differentiation.

9. The sun (and all stars) will burn out. The sun is finite in size. It is giving off its heat. Being finite this process cannot go on forever. Therefore the sun and stars will burn out.

10. A materialist response has been to appeal to the big bang oscillating universe theory. The non-materialist reply is 1) on empirical grounds there is not enough matter in the physical universe for gravity to pull everything back together 2) on logical grounds the model of the big bang does not overcome the problem of entropy (sameness) - at some point the force pulling in will have to equal the force pushing out.
In the true vacuum to false vacuum theory of the beginning of the universe, when the true vacuum is described as empty of matter and energy in contrast to the false vacuum as empty of matter but not energy, the change so described involves being coming into existence from non-being.
The reason for the minor premise is not overcome by appeal to black holes, antimatter, antiuniverses etc.

11. To explain change and diversity from an original unity and oneness in materialist's terms has often involved appeal to uncaused events:
Epicurus 300 BC - the atomic swerve theory
Dirac 1930 - evenly heated vacuum theory
Hoyle 1950 - the steady state theory
B. Russell 1960 - cold ash heap view
currently widespread - the big bang oscillating universe theory
S. Hawking and others 1980 - true vacuum/false vacuum theory
Historically, appeals have been made to something non-material to account for change in light of the difficulties in materialists' explanations (e.g. Aristotle's Prime Mover).

12. Non-Materialist: appeal to an uncaused event violates the laws of reason.
Materialist: why should reason be an absolute; reason itself evolves as man evolves.
Non-M: if reason is not absolute then "all is matter" is not rationally true; its logical opposite is not false if it is true; both may be true at the same time.
M: "all is matter" is pragmatically true. It works for me.
Non-M: what works (satisfies) is a statement about one's feelings not about what is real.
M: about what is real I make no statement (c.f. Sextus Empiricus' move to silence).
Non-M: as rational beings we cannot give up reason; we can only give up integrity.
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
RP ".. applies reason as a test for meaning to what is presupposed in a dispute." (See Attached)

And how do we know if what reason determines is true knowledge? What is it tested against? If it is tested against reason itself, then reason is the starting point. If it is tested against Scripture, then Scripture is the starting point.

Tested against which scripture? If you say the Bible then the next question is why the Bible and not some other version of scripture.

CT

That is the axiom for the Christian ... what would you test it against? The U.S. Constitution? The plays of Shakespeare? The Quran? The starting point is that the Bible is the propositional revelation of God and hence it alone can be the ultimate test for truth and knowledge. To appeal to anything else as the starting point denies the uniqueness of the God revealed in Scripture.

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 02:24:37 EST-----

7. There are no unique events in an eternal being (see earlier discussion).

8. The reason for the minor premise: 1) the physical universe is highly differentiated in terms of hot and cold 2) these differences interact 3) the interaction continues until sameness is reached 4) sameness remains sameness; it cannot return to differentiation.

9. The sun (and all stars) will burn out. The sun is finite in size. It is giving off its heat. Being finite this process cannot go on forever. Therefore the sun and stars will burn out.

These are asserted, but how do we know them to be true? They may have been true yesterday and today, but how do we know they will be true tomorrow. How do we know there is no unique events in an eternal being? How do we know that the Second Law of Thermodynamics will be in effect after midnight? How do we know that the sun (and all stars) will burn out? Without God telling us these things are true, there is no way we can know them to be ultimately true. We may think they are true based on some limited observation or a short time of reasoning, but we may be mistaken (e.g. the earth is flat).
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
And how do we know if what reason determines is true knowledge? What is it tested against? If it is tested against reason itself, then reason is the starting point. If it is tested against Scripture, then Scripture is the starting point.

Tested against which scripture? If you say the Bible then the next question is why the Bible and not some other version of scripture.

CT

That is the axiom for the Christian ... what would you test it against? The U.S. Constitution? The plays of Shakespeare? The Quran? The starting point is that the Bible is the propositional revelation of God and hence it alone can be the ultimate test for truth and knowledge. To appeal to anything else as the starting point denies the uniqueness of the God revealed in Scripture.

My point is what do you say to the non Christian, when they ask the same question that I put forward above.

Let us say that response you get is, "yes let us use the Koran". At that point, you are going to have to use reason to adjudicate between the various options.

I also do not think of it as an axiom like something out of a math textbook. It is something that is true, but not an axiom.

Denying that the Bible is the Word of God is the ultimate axiom does not deny the uniqueness of the God revealed in the Bible. I can easily say that natural revelation points to him and only him.

CT
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
Tested against which scripture? If you say the Bible then the next question is why the Bible and not some other version of scripture.

CT

That is the axiom for the Christian ... what would you test it against? The U.S. Constitution? The plays of Shakespeare? The Quran? The starting point is that the Bible is the propositional revelation of God and hence it alone can be the ultimate test for truth and knowledge. To appeal to anything else as the starting point denies the uniqueness of the God revealed in Scripture.

My point is what do you say to the non Christian, when they ask the same question that I put forward above.

Let us say that response you get is, "yes let us use the Koran". At that point, you are going to have to use reason to adjudicate between the various options.

I also do not think of it as an axiom like something out of a math textbook. It is something that is true, but not an axiom.

Denying that the Bible is the Word of God is the ultimate axiom does not deny the uniqueness of the God revealed in the Bible. I can easily say that natural revelation points to him and only him.

CT

What can natural revelation tell us about God? Not much ... creator who seems to let everything run down and decay ... it can tell us nothing about the nature of God, nothing about providence, and nothing about grace. Natural revelation may tell us there is a God, but it can't tell us who he is. Natural revelation might actually convince us that there is a Demiurge.
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Tested against which scripture? If you say the Bible then the next question is why the Bible and not some other version of scripture.

CT

That is the axiom for the Christian ... what would you test it against? The U.S. Constitution? The plays of Shakespeare? The Quran? The starting point is that the Bible is the propositional revelation of God and hence it alone can be the ultimate test for truth and knowledge. To appeal to anything else as the starting point denies the uniqueness of the God revealed in Scripture.

My point is what do you say to the non Christian, when they ask the same question that I put forward above.

Let us say that response you get is, "yes let us use the Koran". At that point, you are going to have to use reason to adjudicate between the various options.

I also do not think of it as an axiom like something out of a math textbook. It is something that is true, but not an axiom.

Denying that the Bible is the Word of God is the ultimate axiom does not deny the uniqueness of the God revealed in the Bible. I can easily say that natural revelation points to him and only him.

CT

It was said that the bible is the axiom for the Christian, not the unbeliever. It is part of apologetics to show the futility of a wrong axiom.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
So I would rather say reason is presupposed necessarily (ontologically) as the starting point. You don't choose reason. You are by nature "rational".

How do you know that? :think:

Well before one can know something to be true or false, one has to know what the statement or word means.

Or put another way, what would it mean to know by nature that I am irrational?

CT

-----Added 4/11/2009 at 03:19:36 EST-----

That is the axiom for the Christian ... what would you test it against? The U.S. Constitution? The plays of Shakespeare? The Quran? The starting point is that the Bible is the propositional revelation of God and hence it alone can be the ultimate test for truth and knowledge. To appeal to anything else as the starting point denies the uniqueness of the God revealed in Scripture.

My point is what do you say to the non Christian, when they ask the same question that I put forward above.

Let us say that response you get is, "yes let us use the Koran". At that point, you are going to have to use reason to adjudicate between the various options.

I also do not think of it as an axiom like something out of a math textbook. It is something that is true, but not an axiom.

Denying that the Bible is the Word of God is the ultimate axiom does not deny the uniqueness of the God revealed in the Bible. I can easily say that natural revelation points to him and only him.

CT

It was said that the bible is the axiom for the Christian, not the unbeliever. It is part of apologetics to show the futility of a wrong axiom.

And I am questioning whether or not it is an axiom for even a Christian. Please not that my questioning of whether Scripture is an axiom does not imply that I am saying that the Bible is not true.

CT
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
And I am questioning whether or not it is an axiom for even a Christian. Please not that my questioning of whether Scripture is an axiom does not imply that I am saying that the Bible is not true.

CT

You mentioned above that an unbeliever would not accept the premise that the Bible is the correct axiom over and against others like the Koran etc. This is to be expected from our worldview. How does the fact that an unbeliever would not accept the Bible as an axiom argue that the Bible is not the axiom for the believer?

Just out of curiosity, what is your alternative epistemology if you are not convinced that the Bible is the source of knowledge?
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
And I am questioning whether or not it is an axiom for even a Christian. Please not that my questioning of whether Scripture is an axiom does not imply that I am saying that the Bible is not true.

CT

You mentioned above that an unbeliever would not accept the premise that the Bible is the correct axiom over and against others like the Koran etc. This is to be expected from our worldview. How does the fact that an unbeliever would not accept the Bible as an axiom argue that the Bible is not the axiom for the believer?

Just out of curiosity, what is your alternative epistemology if you are not convinced that the Bible is the source of knowledge?

I didn't say anything about what the unbeliever would or would not accept. I only noted that one would have to bring reason into the game in order to adjudicate between the Bible and other alternatives.

Since that is the case, then why not say that reason is your axiom and that the Bible is the reasonable option while the Koran etc. is not a reasonable option.

CT
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
And I am questioning whether or not it is an axiom for even a Christian. Please not that my questioning of whether Scripture is an axiom does not imply that I am saying that the Bible is not true.

CT

You mentioned above that an unbeliever would not accept the premise that the Bible is the correct axiom over and against others like the Koran etc. This is to be expected from our worldview. How does the fact that an unbeliever would not accept the Bible as an axiom argue that the Bible is not the axiom for the believer?

Just out of curiosity, what is your alternative epistemology if you are not convinced that the Bible is the source of knowledge?

I didn't say anything about what the unbeliever would or would not accept. I only noted that one would have to bring reason into the game in order to adjudicate between the Bible and other alternatives.

Since that is the case, then why not say that reason is your axiom and that the Bible is the reasonable option while the Koran etc. is not a reasonable option.

CT

Just to name a couple:

First of all, reason cannot produce truth in and of itself. Reason needs prior knowledge by which to reason FROM in order to deduce knowledge. Reason is the arguing from premises to conclusions, so where do we get the starting premises? I say the scriptures...what say ye?

Also, to state that reason should be the axiom of the Christian is to say that we are the autonomous determiner of truth, not dependent on God by faith in his word. Instead of trusting that the scriptures are true because God wrote it, the person who uses reason as his axiom should read every verse and decide for himself if or if not the verse is true or not.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
You mentioned above that an unbeliever would not accept the premise that the Bible is the correct axiom over and against others like the Koran etc. This is to be expected from our worldview. How does the fact that an unbeliever would not accept the Bible as an axiom argue that the Bible is not the axiom for the believer?

Just out of curiosity, what is your alternative epistemology if you are not convinced that the Bible is the source of knowledge?

I didn't say anything about what the unbeliever would or would not accept. I only noted that one would have to bring reason into the game in order to adjudicate between the Bible and other alternatives.

Since that is the case, then why not say that reason is your axiom and that the Bible is the reasonable option while the Koran etc. is not a reasonable option.

CT

Just to name a couple:

First of all, reason cannot produce truth in and of itself. Reason needs prior knowledge by which to reason FROM in order to deduce knowledge. Reason is the arguing from premises to conclusions, so where do we get the starting premises? I say the scriptures...what say ye?

Reason can work with simple hypothesis. If you reduce it to absurdity, then you know that such is not the case.

You can even set certain proofs up (using Some, all, none etc.) where if one position is false, then the other side has to be the case.

Also, to state that reason should be the axiom of the Christian is to say that we are the autonomous determiner of truth, not dependent on God by faith in his word. Instead of trusting that the scriptures are true because God wrote it, the person who uses reason as his axiom should read every verse and decide for himself if or if not the verse is true or not.

We are not the determiner of truth, the only question is whether we recognize it or not. Also even when comes to the conclusion that there is a god, then one has to decide what is his word, and what the imposters are.

Why exactly would you reject Islam besides reason? If one does not want to make it reason, then someone is going to have to make some leap of faith.

CT
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
First of all, reason cannot produce truth in and of itself. Reason needs prior knowledge by which to reason FROM in order to deduce knowledge. Reason is the arguing from premises to conclusions, so where do we get the starting premises? I say the scriptures...what say ye?

Exactly--we cannot pretend that reason, a God-given tool, somehow has content in itself. When someone says that they know something by virtue of "reason," he does not mean it in the truest sense. That would be like saying that I am going to build a house with my bare hands--and with no other materials involved. But such is impossible.
 
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