Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Classical Apologetics: Summaries of the Ontological, Cosmological, and Teleological Arguments

[The following excerpts are from Classical Apologetics by R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley.]

The Ontological Argument [the argument from being]: Infinite being must exist because we cannot conceive of its not existing.

The Cosmological Argument [the argument from order]: The world is not only being, but orderly being, a cosmos. If so, its Author must be an orderly mind. Order sometimes seems to happen by chance, but it would not happen all the time by chance (or really any of the time, as we will see when we discuss teleology), for then it would not be a chance happening but an ordered one. The chance would be taken out of chance. Regular order is the order of the day and the years and the ages in the universe.

God alone has the power of being within Himself. He alone has ultimate causal power. Without something or someone who has the power of being intrinsically, we are irrefutably left with some type of notion of self-creation which... is an analytically false concept. The notion of self-creation is manifestly irrational as it blatantly violates the law of non-contradiction. We have an either/or situation. Either we must postulate necessary, self-existent being, or we must flee to the absurdity of self-creation, committing intellectual and scientific suicide. The law remains intact, ex nihilo nihil fit: out of nothing, nothing comes.

But does not Christianity assert a doctrine of ex nihilo creation? Yes, in a certain sense. The great difference between the Christian concept of creation and opposing views is at the point of self-creation. Within the concept of self-creation is the idea that once there was nothing--pure non-being (which, to labor the point [from the ontological argument] is unthinkable)--and then, "poof" [or: BANG!], there was something, like the rabbit out of the magician's hat. Only what happens [according to opposing views] is more stupendous that the feats of prestidigitation. In this magic show, the rabbit comes forth from nothing by himself. Thee is no magician to bring him forth, no hat out of which to pull him, and no concealed (or even partially becoming) rabbit who emerges. There is nothing. Pure potentiality. Absolute nothingness. The "Genesis 1:1" [first word] of self-creation would read: "In the beginning, nothing created the heavens and the earth." There is no sufficient cause for the rabbit, no efficient cause, no material cause, no instrumental cause, no formal cause, and no final cause. We have the pure effect with no cause.

The Christian view is not without its difficulties. It remains a mystery how a self-existent eternal being actually does His work of creation. The ex nihilo is limited in scope, however. It has primary reference to the fact that God did not use some pre-existent, external matter out of which He fashioned a world as a sculptor fashions a statue out of a mass of stone. But there is nothing analytically problematic about the notion of a self-existing eternal being. Far from Falsifying the concept, logic demands it. Christianity does have a sufficient cause, an efficient cause, a formal cause, and a final cause for the effect of this world.

The Teleological Argument [the argument from purpose]: Could purposive creatures be from a being without purpose? ... Could the source of all beings purposelessly populate the cosmos with purpose-seekers?

Creatures, as we have seen, can causally argue to orderliness and structure in the Creator. The question is: Did Being unintentionally make things which revealed Himself? Being omniscient, He would have at least foreseen it [whatever comes to pass, along with the possibility of arguing for the Creator]. If He did not want it to happen, He could have prevented it. Therefore, He must have wanted it to happen. That is, He intended or purposed it. Since He has willed everything to come to pass that comes to pass (or it would never have come to pass), He must have purposively ordained everything to come to pass. He not only purposed the [self-sonsciously] purposive but everything, whether it has a purpose in itself or not.

We are talking about God as the source of purpose. And if God is the source of purpose and the only one who could be the source of purpose, then He is the source of moral purpose as well. He would also have to be omniscient to arrange everything in a purposeful way. Consequently, being God, He would be incapable of error either in planning or in intention or morality. We do not want to labor this point at the moment  We simply not it lest there be some misunderstanding. If God is the purposer, He cannot do any nonpurposeful activities.

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