Chapter 1 The Holy Scriptures
In order to begin a logical argument or proof, one must have an axiom or given – that which is accepted as true without proof. Axiom: “a proposition that is assumed without proof for the sake of studying the consequences that follow from it.”Random House Unabridged Dictionary According to Webster’s 1828: “A self evident truth, or a proposition whose truth is so evident at first sight, that no process of reasoning or demonstration can make it plainer; as, “the whole is greater than a part.”
Every one has a basic presupposition, Christian or not; the question is not if we have one but what is it. The most basic presupposition for the Christian is that “there is a God”, for everyone else that “there is no God”. The next presupposition for the Christian is that “the Bible is the Word of God”.
Neither of these proposition can be logically proven since all the arguments eventually become circular or reach a conclusion exceeding what is contained in the presupposition (e.g., arguing from the finite to the infinite). The inability to prove a proposition does not mean it is false, illogical or invalid – remember Webster’s definition! The most basic philosophical discussions and logical proofs begin with an unprovable axiom.
While Christians begin their logical arguments with axioms which cannot be proven, that does not imply an absence of evidence. Charles Hodge in his commentary on the WCF says: “The fact that such a revelation has been made, and. that we have it in the Christian Scriptures, is fully substantiated by that mass of proof styled the “Evidences of Christianity.”
Further, it is unnecessary to prove the existence of God; this is evident both from empirical evidence and the testimony of Scripture. Every culture ever discovered or known has at some point in its existence worshiped some sort of deity; the universality of worship indicates a “pre-programmed” idea of God coupled and an “innate” sense of right and wrong indicates an external source for a moral code of some kind. As in the line from The Sound of Music – “nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could”, or ex nihilo, nihil fit, everything that exists must have a source.
Second, Paul indicates from two different perspectives in his letter to the Romans that a logical proof for God’s existence is unnecessary. In Romans 1:18-22 he declares that the fact that some God with certain attributes exists is obvious from natural revelation. In support of that he points to universal theism or atheism as evidence implying this logic: if there is no God, why would anyone feel the need to worship or deny the existence of God? Then in Romans 2:14-15 Paul uses the moral code developed by Gentile peoples apart from the influence of Mosaic law as further evidence of God having implanted a sense of right and wrong in every human being.
So, to put our two basic presuppositions together, what do we have? “There is a God and he has spoken to us through the Bible.” While this cannot be proven, it cannot be disproven and there is overwhelming evidence in its favor, making it a reasonable and rational axiom. The explanations (metanarratives or big stories) given for various aspects of our history and experience fit the evidence – creation, the flood, the post-Babel diaspora, development of languages, the Exodus, the great empires (Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman), the advent of Christ himself, etc.
Two more questions: if we believe our presupposition, where does it logically lead and how do we use it within our circle of influence?
If God exists, then he must have rights (ownership and rulership). If he exists, has rights, and has spoken, then we have a duty to listen, to know what he has spoken. If he exists, has rights, and has commanded, then we have a duty to obey. If it is through the Bible that he has spoken, then the Bible carries the same weight of authority as its author and has the same authority to command. Here, then, is the line of reasoning used by the framers of the WCF and the LCF – nowhere in the confessions is there an attempt to prove God’s existence; it is merely assumed and our presuppositions are in fact their starting point, forming the foundation for the several points enumerated in Chapter 1.
In the culture!
We don’t need to beat people over the head trying to prove the existence of God; neither do we have to scream and run because we can’t prove his existence. Rather, the burden is on them to disprove his existence.
We can challenge them to show how the definition they have of God fits the evidence.
When we have opportunity to explain why we think or act the way we do, we can logically reason from the Bible back to God, not as proof but as evidence.
In the interaction between the Bible and science, the Bible wins hands down! Science has no explanation for origins; it can only begin with what already exists and through the scientific method reach logical conclusions. Science has no explanation for why things occur or why particular things occur; science cannot identify purpose. Further, the Bible is the only credible source that claims an eyewitness perspective of the beginning.
Just a short rabbit trail: one’s presuppositions determine one’s interpretation of the evidence and ultimate conclusion. If you begin with atheism, you of necessity must find evidence of some other mechanism than creation to explain reality.