• Apologetics,  Epistemology,  Natural Theology,  Philosophy of Religion

    Nativism and Theistic Beliefs

    Did we learn the concept of God and infer his existence from some other more basic belief, or did we have the concept of God or a belief in his existence ‘already in the mind’? Such is the issue of nativism: whether there is something in the mind prior to experience. Some theologians and philosophers espouse strongly nativist views. For example, Gordon Clark argues for a form of concept nativism. He argues that human beings have “innate ideas and a priori categories” the purpose of which are for “receiving a verbal revelation, of approaching God in prayer, and of conversing with other men about God and spiritual realities.” Clark makes two…

  • Apologetics,  Ethics,  Language

    Language Use and the Existence of God

    Natural human language-use entails moral obligations, specifically objective obligations between persons. All of these obligations are routinely broken (see Twitter). These obligations are both objective and social. They depend on being objective and not merely an expression of a particular preference or culture. They also depend on the existence of a social context composed of more than one person. As Nicholas Wolterstorff claims, “speaking is, through and through, a normative engagement.” Wolterstorff suggests three norms and provides examples: (i) speech should be related rightly to the mental state of the speaker. If the speaker asserts something he ought to believe it. If the speaker promises something, he ought to intend to fulfill…

  • Apologetics,  Language

    From Language to God: An Argument

    Children acquire natural languages. How they are capable of doing so is mysterious. A child appears to go from learning a few words and sentences to knowing how to construct infinite sentences in her learned language. Such a mystery provoked a long-lasting debate between empiricists and nativists.  Empiricists about language acquisition hold that there is no innate knowledge ‘in the mind’ of a language learner without which the learner could not acquire a natural language. Nativists, by contrast, hold that there must be some innate feature of human minds (beyond the mere dispositional power to learn) that makes language acquisition possible for human beings In order to explain the phenomena…

  • Apologetics

    Should Christians Partake in Formal Debates About God?

    Martin Lloyd-Jones was against formal debates with unbelievers. Why? His first reason is that no one comes to faith through a debate. Thus, debates are not useful. However, though the debate opponent rarely comes to faith, Dr. William Lane Craig (who debates non-believers regularly) claims people in his audiences do so. Debates are not merely showdowns between two people with opposing views, but showcases of opposing views allowing audiences to to hear both sides. Loyd-Jones then says that the topic of God is too serious a matter for public debate. I’m not clear what he means at this point. Isn’t a ‘formal’ debate as serious as one can get? What…

  • Apologetics,  Existence of God,  Theism

    Notes: “Divine Necessity” by Robert Adams

    Adams writes “to refute two…objections to the doctrine of divine necessity” (742). In doing so, he provides a refutation for evolutionary naturalism and an argument for the existence of God. Obj #1: The proposition, ‘God exists’, cannot be a necessary truth because only analytic truths can be necessary truths but existential propositions cannot be analytic truths. ‘God exists’ is an existential proposition. Therefore, ‘God exists’ cannot be a necessary truth. Why think analytic propositions cannot be existential propositions? An analytic proposition is a conditional the consequent of which is a correct analysis of the antecedent. For example, the proposition ‘if he is a bachelor, then he is unmarried’ (or ‘all…

  • Apologetics,  Language,  Philosophy of Linguistics

    From Sentences to God

    From a very young age, we can recognize the quality of sentences. We evaluate sentences according to some standard, some criteria of good, bad, better, or worse. If God created the world then it is likely that he would endow human beings with some way to recognize good and bad sentences according to some standard. One might think that this would entail that human beings know what makes sentences good or bad. But recognition of the value of an entity does not entail knowing what makes it valuable. This is true of good and bad actions as much as it is true of good or bad sentences. One might not…

  • Apologetics,  Philosophy of Religion

    Alexander Campbell’s Argument for the Existence of God

    Alexander Campbell was an influential pastor in 19th century. He came up with an interesting argument for the existence of God. I saw it nicely analyzed by Caleb Clanton. Campbell argues that human beings must have obtained the concept of God at some time in the past. But what best explains the cause of our having such a concept? There are five plausible options. First, the idea of God is innate to human minds. We never really obtained the concept; it was always within us. Second, the concept of God was acquired through direct experience of God. Third, the concept of God was arrived at by experience and reflection. Fourth,…