University-Trained Mole Rats

Scripture teaches us that the creation is articulate. “The heavens declare his righteousness, And all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, That boast themselves of idols: Worship him, all ye gods” (Ps. 97:6–7). The created order pours forth speech. Nature is not a dumb mute, vaguely gesturing in the direction of some nameless god, who must have made "all this." It is far more than that. The creation pours forth moral speech. In the text cited above we should note that the heavens declare God's righteousness, and does so in a way that makes it unmistakeable that this righteousness is glorious, and that it humiliates those who pray to their statues. An honest look at the night sky, in other words, not only blows away the pretended rationality of idolatry, but also the pretended morality of it. The heavens declare God's righteousness, and shames the unrighteousness of every alternative pretense. When we kick against such heavenly declarations, … [Read more...]

A Gracious Gift of the Creeps

Clock Cogs

I recently read Peter Leithart's piece on nature at the Trinity House page here, and my initial reaction was to pose a test case scenario for him. It looked like this. I wrote Peter and asked him to write an article that assumes his "un-metaphysic" about nature, and use it to demonstrate the sinfulness of getting, for example, a sex change operation. This has to do with his point about the nature of limits, and I really want to see how his approach protects "natural" ​limits from the perversions of men. So I asked him to write an article on this for the excellent reason that I wanted to read it. But turnabout is fair play, and while Peter said he would give it some thought, he also asked me to answer my own question. So okay, we both need to write something. Here is my shot at it. What I was looking for is some kind of anchor found in the world that is capable of saying "thus far and no farther." I think that nature provides us with an ancient boundary stone that we are not … [Read more...]

To Obligate Belief

The classic beginning of Calvin's Institutes rightly assumes that it is not possible to know God without knowledge of ourselves. Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God. But it runs the other direction as well. It "not easy to discern" which knowledge precedes and brings forth the other. They are interdependent. "Accordingly, the knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it were, leads us by the hand to find him" (Institutes 1.1.1). The same kind of thing is true of other sets of complementary assumptions. I cannot know my Cartesian pinpoint self without assuming something about the authority of logic. I think I think, therefore I think I am, I think. I cannot know the Bible without assuming something about the nature of the world in which I learned to read it, along with the reality of Miss Robinson who taught me how to read in first grade. I cannot know one thing without knowing something about all things. This, if true, means that the … [Read more...]

The Way It Looks on the Screen

So I am a presuppositionalist. That's true enough, but what do I need to presuppose? This will require more development, but what needs to be presupposed is the way things actually are. You don't need to know all the precise details of how things actually are -- you don't begin at the end -- but you do have to be committed to the truth a priori, knowing that such objective, unmovable truth, which is so necessary as the foundation of every form of knowing, is not possible apart from the bedrock of the true and living God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 9:10). But beginning with the fear of the Lord does not mean beginning with the Lord alone, the Lord solitary, the Lord isolated. No one can know the Lord that way -- it is incoherent -- oxymoronic. God cannot be known from outside God unless there is a creation, in which the knower lives. And if he lives in a created order larger than himself, then he also knows things other than God simultaneously with his … [Read more...]

What Plato’s Cousin Knew

Theological disputes are often matters of great moment, even when those outside the dispute cannot track with what is going on. I think it was Gibbon who once displayed his ignorance by saying that the debate over homousia and homoiousia was somehow over the letter i -- which is pretty similar to saying the debate between atheists and theists is over the letter a. But at the same time, theologians are capable of talking past each other simply because they are used to different terminology, or perhaps because they are worried about the trajectory of those who use that other terminology. Take, for example, the distinction between natural revelation and natural law. Now before opening this particular worm can, I want to acknowledge that two positions represented by these phrases can be quite different indeed. But this is a historical fact, not a logical one. I believe the two essential positions can be collapsed into one another with 5 minutes of questions. Say you are … [Read more...]