10 Reasons to Reject Scripturalism:  A Response – Part 8 of 10

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5.Part 6.Part7

The Objection

Scripturalists cannot show how a Christian worldview solves various philosophical and ethical problems raised for non-Christian worldviews.

  1. a) For instance, the law of non-contradiction (that A is not non-A) is a perfectly general law nowhere contained in Scripture nor validly deducible from propositions of Scripture. Therefore, Scripturalists cannot so much as know the law of non-contradiction, much less claim that the Christian worldview accounts for it. (Neither an intuitive defense nor an inductive derivation of this law is open to the Scripturalist, for obvious reasons.)
  2. b) Similarly, the notion that nature is uniform and stable (implicit in any inductive inference about the future) is neither a proposition of Scripture nor deducible from propositions of Scripture. At best, it can be given only an inductive defense on the basis of passages like Ge 8:22, which makes reference not to all of nature but to a couple of natural processes (passing seasons, day and night). Therefore, Scripturalists cannot account for induction by means of the Christian worldview.
  3. c) Likewise for various ethical claims, such that infanticide or racism is immoral. These may admit of a defense which involves intuition or induction, but their truth cannot be validly deduced from such texts as Ex 20:13 or Ac 17:26.

The Answer

The objector essentially says that Scripturalism cannot account for logical, natural, and ethical norms.  When one takes a logical norm to be “thinking how God thinks,” a natural norm to be “the norms by which God’s creation behaves,” and an ethical norm to be “the standards by which God desires us to live,” it is easy to see that the Bible teaches us quite a bit about these 3 areas (i.e. it actually gives us an account).  This is not to say that the Bible gives us a full philosophical account of each of these areas.  As much as some people might wish it did, Scripturalists recognize that this isn’t the Bible’s purpose.  Nonetheless, the objection is removed by the fact that the Bible teaches us something about God’s thought (logic), something about how creation behaves (natural law), and something about how God desires us to live (morality).

Elaboration

Logical Norms

Whether or not the law of contradiction can be deduced from the Scriptures is an interesting topic.  Since logic, simply defined, refers to rules of right thinking, and since, for the Scripturalist, right thinking is how God thinks, the question of whether or not the law of contradiction is taught in Scripture turns into the question of whether or not God thinks according to this law.  The easiest way to show that God does think this way, and indeed always thinks this way, is to look at the universal statement given in Titus 1:2 where it speaks of “God, who cannot lie”.  What is it to lie?  To lie is to say A when non-A is true[1].  If A could be true when non-A was also true, then lying would be impossible.  Lying is possible (as evidenced by passages when people lie[2]), therefore A cannot be true when non-A is true.  Here, we have explained the law of contradiction from the Scriptures and showed that God never violates it.  However, one need not go to Titus 1:2 to see that God thinks according to the law of contradiction, for a promise tells us the same.  A promise occurs when S commits himself to do A and not non-A so a similar argument can be made to show that when God makes a promise, he is committed to something that assumes the truth of the law of contradiction.  Moreover, one need not limit himself to Titus 1:2 or even to God’s promises to show this.  One can go to any passage in the whole Scripture and infer that God meant something by it (even hard passages where we can’t tell what God means, we at least know he meant something).  Yes, to mean something is to mean A and not non-A.  So when God says something meaningful, he also assumes the truth of the law of contradiction.  This long paragraph proved that Titus 1:2 establishes the law of contradiction in God’s thought and suggested that the same can be done for God’s promises and for just about any old verse in the Scripture.

 

Natural Norms

Are natural norms derivable from Scripture? God clearly means us to understand things about the way creation behaves, and if we call that natural law, it is clear that we can derive at least some knowledge about natural laws from Scripture.  We wont find Newton’s Laws in the Scriptures.  That’s not only because Newton’s laws are false as has been proven by modern science, but it is also because it isn’t the Scripture’s purpose to give us scientific equations.  Perhaps God is happy to let us find these on our own.  After all, people need jobs.  But God does tell us quite a lot about the natural world.  Genesis 1 and 2 tells us a bit about how it came about.  Matt 5:45 tells us that God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on the just and the unjust; giving us an example as to how we are to love our enemies.  We could go on and on, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could know something about the consistency of the universe?  We can.  Many passages compare the consistency of the universe to God’s consistency (established in the previous paragraph).  For example, Hos 6:3 tells us that God’s going forth is “as sure as the dawn”.  So it is easy to see that, if we have to, we can derive some things about natural norms from the Scriptures.

 

Ethical Norms

The most surprising of the 3 points made by the objector is the third.  He things that the Scriptures don’t give us enough information to derive ethical norms.  If the Bible speaks clearly on anything, it is on ethics (i.e. how we are to live).  It is hard to see why the objector believes that infanticide and racism aren’t condemned explicitly by the Bible.  Infanticide involves murder and in Ex 20:13, God says:  “Thou shalt not murder”.  Racism involves not loving your neighbor as yourself and in Matt 19:19 Jesus says that we are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself”.  Lest it be argued that ethnic people are more like our enemies than our neighbors, Jesus says in Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  So infanticide and racism are clearly condemned in the Scriptures, and those are obviously not the only two ethical norms that can be derived from the Scriptures.

 

 

 

[1] Perhaps it is more reasonable to say that to lie is to say A when you believe that non-A is true.  Either way, it doesn’t matter to the argument.

[2] For one example, Ananias and Sapphira are said to have lied in Acts 5:1-11

Written by