Do you believe there is a God?
“No. In fact, I know that God does not exist.”
Could you be wrong about everything you know?
“Of course not! I know that I’m holding a cup of coffee right now.”
How do you know that?
“Because my senses tell me so—I touch, see, smell, and taste the coffee.”
How do you know your senses are accurate? Could you be deceived?
“Well…I suppose I don’t. Okay, then. I know that 1+1=2!”
How do you know that 1+1 equals 2?
“Because the laws of mathematics say so!”
How do you know that the laws of mathematics are valid?
“Because generations of mathematicians have tested them and found them to be true.”
How do you know those mathematicians came to the right conclusions?
“Because they used their reasoning.”
How do you know their reasoning was valid?
Moreover, how do you know your own reasoning is valid? Because you reason that your reasoning is valid? That’s viciously circular! Ultimately, you cannot claim to know anything for certain.
The above discourse is an example of what is known as presuppositional apologetics. There are three main types of Christian apologetics: presuppositional, classical, and evidential. In this issue of the Families for Reformation newsletter we will examine presuppositional apologetics. Classical and evidential apologetics will be addressed in the next two issues.
First off, what is presuppositional apologetics? According to that great source of human knowledge, Wikipedia, “Presuppositionalism is a school of Christian apologetics that believes the Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought.”
What is a presupposition? According to apologist John Frame, a presupposition is a “belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition…. This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing.”
Basically, presuppositional apologetics argues that everyone has certain fundamental assumptions that we accept without external proof. Moreover, it asserts that any rational discussion presupposes the truth of the presuppositions of Christianity.
Proverbs 9:10 (ESV) says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” That verse clearly establishes that you cannot be wise if you do not fear God. In fact, fearing the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom! You have absolutely no wisdom whatsoever if you do not fear God. Thus, those who deny God’s existence are not wise—they are fools. As Proverbs 14:1 (ESV) states, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” In Scripture, “fool” doesn’t refer to someone with a low IQ. It refers to someone who knows the truth but refuses to accept it. Atheists are not wise because they do not fear the Lord.
As illuminated in the opening dialogue, atheists ultimately have no foundation for their assertions. They presuppose the validity of science, reason, or logic, but have no reason why those should be valid in a universe without a Creator.
If they claim to know anything at all they cannot support that claim. If they admit that they could be wrong about everything they know, then they have given up knowledge. Think of it this way: If you ask me what the speed limit outside my house is and I reply, “I think it’s 25 miles per hour, but I’m not sure,” then I don’t really know. Knowledge necessarily implies certainty. So, if an atheist is not certain of the validity of his or her assertions, that atheist cannot claim to know anything….
To read the rest of the article, see the Fall 2013 edition of the Families for Reformation newsletter. Simply visit this page and scroll down to find my article!