An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Friday, 6 January 2006

God and proofs

Hence every effort to 'prove' God is a denial of Him. In all such rationalistic proofs, God is brought before the logic of man's mind and required to 'justify' and 'prove' His existence. The god who is then derived or or 'proven' is the god of man's imagination, not the living God of Scripture. To prove means to establish by evidence, to show to be true, to test, and to verify. We cannot prove God. He is the Source of all proof. We are rather proven, tested, or verifed by Him. He alone can justify.

R J Rushdoony Systematic Theology Volume I (Ross House Books: Vallecito, 1994) p.661. [HT Forrest Schultz]

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bianca said...

That is so true. A theology professor once suggested for us to consider the fact that you can't disprove God- so that in itself may actually prove God!
How small and finite our minds are-we will never understand how awesome and wonderful God is!

mxu said...

Found your blog off of the Reformed Aggregator, and since i'm interested in logic and proofs...a quick comment:

We don't have the context, so I don't know what the "Hence" refers to, but I am presuming that this paragraph is preceeded by some logical reasoning of some sort.

Wouldn't this paragraph then be an example of what it's advising against? Putting God to the test through logic?

(As a side note, so you know where I am coming from, I'm a presuppositionalist of the Clarkian persuasion)

Steve Bishop said...

Hi mxu,

I'm not sure what you are meaning by the paragraph being an example of what it's advising against - could you please elaborate?

jazzycat said...

Paul in Acts 17:31 seems to be offering a proof. In witnessing to atheists shouldn’t we use the resurrection and fulfilled prophecy such as Isaiah 53 as proofs?

Steve Bishop said...

Hi Jazzycat,

I suppose it depends how the term 'proof' is defined. If by proof we mean:
"A proof of an argument is a list of statements, each of which is obtained from the preceding statements using one of the rules of inference T1, T2, S, C, or P. The last statement in the proof must be the conclusion of the argument.'

Then that is not what is meant in Acts 17 etc. What do you mean by 'proof'?

I like what Dooyeweerd said: 'Whatever can be proven would thereby not be God.'

jazzycat said...

The living God of scripture has more to say about his existence in Romans 1:19-20. I guess the point here might be that something must have the power of "being" or self-existence. It is a stretch to believe that matter alone would have this power.

mxu said...

Hmmm, let me try to clarify my point.

The (first half of the) claim being made in the quoted paragraph is that we cannot bring God before the logic of man's mind and require Him to 'justify' and 'prove' His existence.

But by extention, that would mean that we should not (cannot) try to test God through the application of our human minds. To try to apply logic to God would be (once again) trying to "justify" and "prove" His existence.

This would seem to exclude the application of logic to all of God's decrees (for the first test of truth is self-consistency, and we should not/cannot test God's truthness or falseness, so we shouldn't check it for self-consistency).

But the claim itself (that God cannot be "proven") is in fact an application of logic to God (based upon what premises I do not know, (aka the previous paragraph) ).

Thus the paragraph itself sounds self-contradictory.

I, as a presuppositionalist, believe that the God of the Bible is the only possible presupposition to make sense of anything in a self-consistent manner, so I believe that God cannot be proven in the sense that we reason from known things to unknown things (for God is the necessary "first" premise), but is established by an "impossible to the contrary" arguments.

Thus I would disagree that "whatever can be proven cannot be God" since I believe God (and Scripture) is the only thing that actually can be proven.

All we have to do is continually challenge the premises until we arrive at a vicious circle (how do we know that chair exists? Because you see it? But then how do you know that your seeing it means it exists?). The only way to know something is true is by divine revelation: Scripture. God's Word is Truth.

Errr, does that help at all? or am I just confusing myself?

Steve Bishop said...

Hi mxu,

thnaks for your response - I think I can see where you are coming form. However, my point is that God needs no proof - He is God and is beyound our finite rational thought and logic. How can we measure the ocean with a spoon?

God transcends our thoughts and so-called proofs - he is far greater than them. God created the laws of logic and so is not subject to them