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Can We Know Truth?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
August 19, 2021 12:01 am

Can We Know Truth?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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August 19, 2021 12:01 am

Is it truly possible to know that God exists, even though we do not see, hear, or touch Him? Today, R.C. Sproul and his mentor John Gerstner begin to square off in a mock debate to test the truth claims of the Christian faith.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind thought you were pleading cosmologically.

When God makes the universe of hugs or because most that even though he never shows up in its personal life. We can't see him.

He's invisible to our eyes.

We don't hear is word spoken audibly but we see the universe and you're saying somehow that universe reveal something to me about God talking to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday times we would have been the unit sometimes to really understand an issue. It's helpful to hear both sides of the argument you're in for a real treat today as Dr. RC Sproul and his mentor Dr. John Gerstner square off in a mock debate with passion and a little good-natured ribbing. These two gifted theologians and loyal friends challenge and defend the existence of God. The Christian faith and the teachings of Scripture. My ignominious in this exercise is to serve as the devils advocate, I'd like to say that that role was chosen by lot, but instead we tried out for the parts and I lost but in our first session together. Dr. Gerstner were going to be discussing the question of truth and ethics, and let me begin by calling attention to what is clear I'm sure to you and everyone else that we live in an age that has been marked by extraordinary discoveries in science that in turn have influenced philosophy and theology in all of the other disciplines and one that has certainly made an impact on my thinking is the concept of relativity as it is change the whole structure of the modern world. But not only is relativity something that we conceive of. With respect to science, but I think now safely with respect to all truth. I noticed that you Christians tend to make bold declarations and affirmations about truth and yet from my perspective as a modern person I have to say Dr. Gerstner that as far as I can see truth is relative.

How would you respond to that since you put the question to me at the outset what is my Christian reaction to relativity is very affirmative and as far as that's concerned God in the world and everything else is relative to knowing mind. I see no problems with that from a Christian standpoint, what I'm saying though Dr. Gerstner is not simply that I have to relate to God and to the world into propositions that people make here and there. In that sense we are all relatives should one another. I'm not disputing that what I'm saying is that the truth itself is conditioned by my perception of it and that what may be true. For example, for you and your religious devotion. You may believe that there is a God and eternal God, who is the object of your devotion and of your prayers and your preaching and that sort of thing so that for you Dr. Gerstner. It's true to say there is a God because you relate to that. It has meaning for you and significance. The but for me, Dr. David has mean anything. There is no God.

So for me it's true to say God does not exist. That's what I mean when I say the truth is relative, like correct when you say that we Christians say there is a God, first of all, that's a proposition which I maintain, is a true proposition.

Now you are hostile to it, but I take it you're not hostile to a definition of the term, you understand the same as I understand what that proposition means.

Would you agree with me unless I think we could have a basic agreement of what is the meaning of the statement in the sense of as a sentence and as a proposition. We both understand what these words in connection communicate yes understand what outside auditors that you affirm the truth of that state exactly so and because it's meaningful to you.

It is true for meaningful to you but you affirm the falsetto.

I don't believe there is a God you don't believe there is a God, but that's a meaningful proposition to which you give that negative response that screen is a meaningful proposition, to which I give an affirmative response and the rational thing for rational people to do at a point like this is to ask, what's the reason I am firm in our what's the reason you deny what you want to take the initiative or any other thing the eyes of the reason I deny it is that I don't get any particular personal significance out of it. It's irrelevant to my life. If there is this God that you put so much stock into believing I don't know anything about them in the doesn't make any difference to me. You're saying it's irrelevant. That is not rational proposition.

I would say because if this being does exist and I'm assuming a dictionary definition of the term just as you he is the author of your being, and for you to stand there and say that is irrelevant to me.

Doesn't sound like a very brilliant observation of what I'm saying is that is that there is a God that that may be true for you because I'm saying the truth is defined by personal meaning because you find meaning in this to your own life.

Subjective significance and I would agree. Dr. Gerstner. This is a true statement. There is a God, that's true, but what I'm saying is true for you is not true for me because I believe it now your shifting to another subject, but before you do if were going to make any progress in this discussion and debate. We got to go step at a time you are withdrawing the statement that that is irrelevant.

This is highly relevant to you, unless you can prove that this being does not exist.

Now you have insinuated that it can't be proven because truth is proven by feeling and you don't have any positive feeling about exactly what I'm so okay now is its land is truth determine just my positive being would you deny that this being about whom you have a negative feeling therefore does not exist because this devils advocate does not have a positive feeling about it. That's correct, you consider that a rational remark well I'm not interested. Whether it's rational and this is a matter what I'm saying we were talking about here is what we are talking about truth that were trying to get a definition and I'm saying to you want to have a rational, objective concept of truth telling you we don't live in the dark ages anymore. The age of rationalism is over The 20th century have an existential view of truth that for me as an exit stencil cost truth is an experience.

It's an encounter it's it's it's it's feeling more than rational proposition you want to. When cyst the truth is some kind of objective, rational system you want to say that any truth this or any other truth stars up a certain feeling in an individual if it's going to be significant. I gather you not denying the objectivity of the concept, but what you're still going back to is that it's not relevant to me unless I am internally involved in it positively. If there is a God.

I out there right part for my feelings apart from my relationships and all of that and apart from your relationship, and all of that, I would have to grant that that would be relevant.

Okay, they try to show you that I'm not Alessio or you do that, let me let me say to what I'm struggling with fear that I guess the reason why I'm saying that this proposition becomes a matter of personal subjective preference if you will, is because I don't really think we can know in the final analysis, if there is such a being independent of your personal feelings about it and my personal fit. What I mean gutters was. I don't think we can know whether there is such a being, but it doesn't matter because if you respond positively for you. It's true and if I don't respond positively than for me.

It's not a viable truth in my life, but by hafted I'm still what I'm saying is I'm not agnostic about that we can make sentences that are objective. I'm not even agnostic about what you said here that if there is a God of the relevant agnostic about whether we can know such a truth well and we all agree on the fact that if there be such a being is that it's highly relevant how you feel about him and if he does exist and you feel negatively about them.

You're in a bad way and if I feel positively about them. I'm in a good way.

That's all accepted the whole point now rests in this one thing whether we can know this being now you're maintaining that we can't even know before we even deal with the question because the only kind of knowing that you're interested in and want to maintain is the only kind of knowing possible is one that affects you positively at your subtle underlying implication now I've qualified that I said that that only comes into play in areas where were dealing with subjects or questions that I'm convinced we can't know about objectively. What do rational people do when one person says we can't know on the other person says we can know where you go from there you have to debated that you want to prove he can't exist or do you want me to prove he counting like it to say that I'm none say that he doesn't exist. I said we can't know I'm not being you really exist. You admit that what you just said I don't care we know it we can't we cannot know that he exists.

You're going to say that how you prove that you can't know God exists because he's beyond the pale Iranian illustrates in about another appointment. For example, for example, certainly is a theologian is a philosopher, you're well aware of the monumental critique of traditional Argus existence of God.

That was so proffered by Immanuel Kant as new U with know the content has shown that such a being as you describe is God is in a realm that is beyond our ability to get a hat. I mean we can't see him. We can't touch him. We can't taste them. We have no access to a metaphysical realm beyond the physical things that we can investigate through science of God cannot be an object of scientific inquiry and know that I know him rationally. What otherwise is we can't know God, because Kant said we can't know God told me.

First of all, how can you know anything about a being who is beyond the scope of sense perception this being could, for example, you just ask me how it would be possible. I can answer you on a hypothetical manner with which I think is true. This being who is beyond visibility and beyond total comprehensibility could make things by means of which he would reveal the nature of his being. I'm a finite person that he could actually create things that are finite.

Also which could kill me. End of the fact that he's the author of those things that would be telling me something about them that he's already there at the beginning and that he makes these things that he's intelligent and the way he goes about her needs benign in this tendency any tomorrow to because he did affect me Marley as well like what I hear coming out of your mouth. Forgive me if I'm being presumptuous, but is nothing more than the old cosmological argument for the existence of God that I thought the can't demolished here. Aren't you a pleading cosmological is a God makes the universe is a cosmos that even though he never shows up in it. Personally, we can't see him.

He's invisible to our eyes. We don't hear is words spoken audibly but we see the universe and you're saying somehow that universe reveal something to me about God. You're getting a very fine statement or cosmological is not what is alacrity, why isn't that what you're arguing five years yet you're not showing any tally in it. What I want to know is how Dr. Gerstner. You can reason from this created realm to this invisible. Okay, I've already told you, and you but mock that out but I'll say it again, and I laughed you have.

You don't have to take this mock debate so seriously is that they give mock argument you know a lot that you will actually address what I say rather than make authoritative statements on agile economies are similarly trying to dentist while you argument as the cosmological argument. Now I would say with with called the as well.

Okay that what it requires to move whether it's a gentle step okay version of the ladder rationally move. I will you're talking send you here whatever is Dr. Gardner and we are moving. You grant that we not leave from this view here okay but we are moving from this fear right to make a metaphysical spirit that would seem to me Dr. Gerstner that in order to do that we would have to make some assumptions which I think was can't that the law of causality. Okay which we use right in our scientific inquiry okay of this world that's true, would apply to this other world equally. That is not necessarily true. Aren't you resting your case on some kind of causal know I am. That doesn't mean that in this other world it would be exactly the same will. How do you mean to argue from this world to the fact that it requires this to God. In this other world you're talking about is one thing to say that God's self-knowledge would be of the same nature as something else again. But we don't have to get that all we need. As far as our debate is concerned is for you to show me this is a gratuitously and that these cosmological arguments that you denigrate so liberally and so on are actually noncollege and you just don't like the idea of moving from this world of the other world, you're assuming that because there's a world here, there has to be a silly thing.

You're the guy putting that word is the correct me. I'm thinking I'm I'm hearing you say is that because there's a world right that we can proceed ASAP.

That is visible exam on Saturday that it was because that world is here right now. That's not the sense I'm saying that what I'm assuming are you what I think you assuming or arguing for is that because we can perceive this world here I this world somehow bears witness to an antecedent cause that's truth that is God that would have to be got. He died of reasoning that we used to get there is causal is that correct okay alright so that now you have this antecedent cause I this visible universe. Okay, why does there have to be Nancy. Why did it have to be one.

Why does there have to be some kind of antecedent cause behind the universe. Why can't the universe speed zone because alright let's hypothecate that let's say for a moment here, you're going to prove. Now you're taking on the business of proving that we can't know God and you're going to say why can't we assume that this world is eternal know it now, what are you wanting his own cause its own clause felt presumably indefinitely it is his own clause is been there. Presumably now that they are now in its own thought it presumably it would've existed. This way, at least in some shape or where we could go through an infinite series of finite causes, and so on.

But that may give you the one who say finite because of you wanting let me finish my sentence at all right finite, constant at your language bright, got a series of finite clauses will manifestly affair finite.

They can't be unlimited candidate and I could not of course have existed of themselves finitely or temporarily not any single one of them or all of the series finite, are they not deny what you been saying I say each of the causes finite because series is infinite. Each of these finite items, each finite and I depends on its own. I just want to make sure I get what you're saying is takes the shape of an argument and not a mere accusation and so by each finite item has own cause is correct infinitely.

This eternally all right.

That supposedly is. I don't believe that's the case, but I like my friend Thomas Aquinas over there, he maintained, you couldn't prove you wrong at this particular point I think we could not go along with the master Thomistic reasoner at this point and grant you that what I consider diabolical thought that the universe could actually be eternal okay incident its own cause forever. Then I would say as we look at the used to be. If I may preach here for just a moment that when I would debate this type of thing with a person who would argue that everything came out of nothing.

This just here you see it at all, as that's what I'm saying is not argue about it right now, not an eternal universe just Abbott Sauceda's self-hate used to be.

This is how the irrationality of our existential ages, ending it used to be when I was still a remnant of rationality left in the culture of our day that if you can show that there is no cause for this thing behind all these things, which depend on God as either nothing or God. You had the argument God had no competition. This is the same thing as saying it's God or nothing. Now I get people like yourselves who can actually when the IBM nothing and is one man who thought the whole thing by saying a fluctuation of nothingness.

Eight and I used to be an indication of a fluctuation of irrationality, absurdity, nonsense, validate, and not humanity. Today people in full possession of the faculty can say a thing like until I hear your all exercise because modern man is willing to accept the possibility of nothing I hear something coming from.

That's right, especially when they defined it as something well it's it's as they inevitably do, by the way they know what nothing is going and well what would you put in the place of nothing like I'm trying to say you admit intelligence here, you admit order you question the idea of the ontological argument which would be just from being itself what you mean by that. What I mean by the ontological argument. What I mean by this argument from being is that that being in order to be has to be eternal.

Otherwise it would've come out of nothing, which is an absolutely meaningless and absurd proposition and that you can't think of nonbeing.

My good friend back here said that nothing is what the sleeping rocks dream of. And I so to add to that the people today who talk about fluctuation of nothing much I'm rocks in their head had so they can can't not think I'm being even less.

Nothing becomes being after all and so enclave in the ceiling ceiling is a log to see if I get this would what I hear you saying is we can use the word. Nothing meaningless like, but well what what what we really mean by it is something yes that we cannot think of nothing except as some kind of being that isn't precisely just like my friend Norman Geisler said this is salable but not thinkable there all sorts of things people can say you exhibited a number of them this evening and so that are not thinkable, but right now you're getting arguments against the Navy and admitting all along the way. I realize you got a report to headquarters and he not going to be pleased with what you say, healing is only admitted in public assembly that the intellectual argument for God to know some of the people might become believers. I will lose them out of acting like a little sorry for you, but nevertheless you have ventured into the open now as you devils don't like to do well. Actually, this is just an exercise to warm us up to go further on his discussion of the existence of God when I was trying to get from you. Here is the groundwork method that you use to try to prove such a thing as existence of God, and I see that what you're doing is you're using your senses for the world and then your reason to to go back to this verse because all right I understand that I know you don't like it but I don't like thinking I get the point. But is there still some things I need to are not with you on this and will take them up in the next session if you don't mind, I appreciate your patience with this poor felon go on and really look at this more sharply in our next release is been a lot of fun incident when a fascinating exercise to to hear two theological titans facing off like this. It's a rare opportunity Dr. RC scroll and his mentor Dr. John Gerstner held this mock debate is a way to dismantle some of the arguments against the existence of God and if you will join us again tomorrow. We will bring you another session of this debate. In a world that is aggressively looking for ways to erase God from its collective memory. It's critical that we as Christians have answers to the objections the world throws at us in this five-part mock debate. Doctors Gerstner and scroll answer questions about God's sovereignty.

The inspiration of the Bible and God's very existence when you contact us today with a donation of any amount we will be happy to send you the two DVD set of this debate. Plus Dr. scroll groundbreaking 32 part series on apologetics defending your faith. Both of these resources are our way of saying thank you for a donation of any amount today.

You can find us or you can call us. Our number is 800-435-4343 Dr. scroll established within your ministries to proclaim God's word faithfully and clearly for 50 years by God sustaining grace is teaching, fellowship is work to unfold the riches of Scripture is RC said the powers not in methods but in the word of God itself and friends like you make it possible for God's word and his glory to be lifted high in every outreach that we can hear undertakes. So we thank you for your gifts will many atheists hang their hat on. The Big Bang Theory is the way to explain how the world came into existence was before the Big Bang in this matter. Eternal like some suppose tenant produce intelligence. Please join us tomorrow as we continue this mock debate between Dr. RC scroll, and Dr. John Gerstner here on Renewing Your Mind

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