Saturday, February 23, 2019

Van Til and Vallicella

The proof presupposes the Law of Non-Contradiction (LNC), and I am willing to grant that LNC and the other laws of logic can be argued to presuppose in their turn the existence of an omniscient necessary being. One argument to this conclusion is the Anderson-Welty argument which I critically examine here. I conclude that, while the argument is not rationally compelling, it does contribute to the rationality of belief in God.  In other words, the Anderson-Welty argument is a good reason to believe in the existence of God. It does not, however, establish the existence of God in a definitive manner. It does not show that the existence of God is absolutely certain.

At the very most, then, one can plausibly argue to, but not prove, the existence of an omniscient necessary being whose existence is a presupposition of our rational operations in accordance with the laws of logic.  But this is a far cry from what Van Til asserts above, namely, that the truth of Christianity with all its very specific claims is a condition of the possibility of proving anything. Trinity and Incarnation are among these specific claims. How are these doctrines supposed to bear upon the laws of logic? [emphasis mine]

i) Is a philosophical argument a failure unless it can establish a claim with absolute certainty? Isn't that a retrograde definition of a successful philosophical argument? Aren't nearly all philosophical arguments failures by that austere standard? Is that a deficiency of the argument, or an artificial standard of success? 

ii) What if your aim was never to prove the truth of Christianity by one particular argument? Is your argument a failure if it misses a target it was never aiming for?

What if your particular argument is part of a cumulative case strategy? No one argument gets you to the finish line, but each argument combines with other arguments towards that objective? 

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