Presuppositions – To Have or Not to Have

I read the following statement in a “reformed” publication and it left me nearly speechless; it’s not that there isn’t much to say about it, rather, where do you begin??

Some want to know whether there was human death prior to the disobedience of our first parents. But others are asking whether there was death of any sort before the fall. Our reflection on this will be affected by whether we’re willing to learn from paleontologists who exegete God’s world or if our exegesis of God’s Word is such that we force the findings of scientists to conform to our foregone conclusions. You can read the rest of the article here.

The question of death before the fall is a good one and deserves serious inquiry. But as I read the final sentence of the quote, several things come to mind. The author sets up a scenario where willingness to learn is pitted against foregone conclusions. The implications are many – that presuppositions prevent learning, that learners don’t have presuppositions, that paleontologists don’t come to their field of inquiry with presuppositions, that the serious learner is at the mercy of the data and where it leads him, that interpretation of data is accomplished without any presuppositional framework.

Even more disturbing is the broad-brush characterization of those who have a system of belief based on God’s Word as being unwilling to learn from fields of study outside theology. That is certainly a perjorative expression of opinion about a diverse group of people, an assertion without benefit of proof. But what is most troubling and in my view thoroughly discrediting to the author is the subordination of special revelation to general revelation. He expects us to interpret the verbal communication of God’s Word in light of the nonverbal communication of God’s world. He expects us to reason from the finite back to the infinite, a logical fallacy, and the point of failure for all those who try to prove the existence of God.

Every system of thought starts with at least one presupposition, an axiom which is accepted without proof otherwise known as a First Principle. If you don’t have a First Principle, by definition you cannot have more principles and thus you cannot have a system of thought. The key to developing a consistent and useful system is beginning in the right place with the right presupposition.

Since all systems but one have as their logical conclusion irrationalism and a complete failure to explain reality, let’s at least begin in the right place. The Infinite God has revealed absolute truth about Himself and all that exists; He has done so in His Word. Starting with the Word of God is the only beginning that provides real answers to all the questions in a logically consistent way.

To start anywhere that subordinates God’s Word to anything destroys its authority and usefulness, leaving us with nothing but skepticism. It places man in a position of authority over God and His Word, claiming that man’s reason is a better judge of what is true and real than God Himself. The reality is that Scripture teaches us that worldly reasoning can never be reconciled to the truth of Scripture so we shouldn’t even think about starting there.

If every thought is to be captive to Christ, then it is essential that we have a comprehensive view of men and things founded on God’s absolute truth.

By His grace,


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