Foundations For Truth
I am quite certain that every single human being believes in absolute truth. I am well-aware of the fact that some individuals say they don’t believe in absolute truth. However, that is frankly like saying, “I don’t believe in vocal chords” while simultaneously using them to utter those words. Truth exists, the truth is you are reading this blog right now. The earth is slowly rotating, the clock is ticking forward, the words on this page are filling up as I write. These things are all true, they are absolutely true. When we examine worldviews, we have to come to the question of seeking to see if they can provide a stable foundation for truth. If a belief system proclaims there is no such thing as truth, then it has already shown itself to be invalid. Reason being, if that statement “there is no such thing as truth” is true, then it is self-refuting. Consequently, when pressing forward with the series examining Christianity and humanism, we must evaluate each worldview and see where we find truth.
Humanism and Truth
Here is what the third Humanist Manifesto says about how they believe humanity gains knowledge:
Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.1
Essentially, if we were to sum all of that up into a nice little statement, we would say humanists believe we have knowledge and truth by rational investigation, and especially rational scientific investigation. To be put that in plain language, if you want to know something, then go observe, experiment, and analyze, but make sure you do so rationally. The question is, does that idea hold water in the humanist world? If everything is simply purely physical (no supernatural) and there is nothing immaterial, then can truth exist?
If you are going to reason well, then you are going to have to use the laws of logic. Dr. Jason Lisle says, “In logical reasoning no one is allowed to be arbitrary- to just assume something without a good reason. After all, if we’re just going to assume something with no reason, then we could equally well do the exact opposite.”2 Therefore, when the humanist states they are going to use their reason and observation skills to gain knowledge, they are relying on the fact they have the ability to think logically. Here is the ultimate question, how does a purely material universe have immaterial laws of logic which allow us to observe things? You can’t deny the laws of logic are immaterial, unless of course you would like to argue that you have touched, heard, felt, smelled, ate, or seen the laws of logic! Humanism assumes we can observe and reason through problems. However, it cannot provide the foundation for that ability to reason or observe in accordance with logic. That is because Humanism must borrow from biblical Christianity in order to even make the assumption we can reason logically!
Christianity and Truth
Biblical Christianity can provide the only solid basis for truth and that is God Himself. Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).” Truth is found in God! We can know truth because the Father reveals it to us through Christ and the Scripture. Truth is found in the Triune God. Scripture says that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3). As Greg Bahnsen says:
Note he says all wisdom and knowledge is deposited in the person of Christ—whether it be about the War of 1812, water’s chemical composition, the literature of Shakespeare, or the laws of logic! Every academic pursuit and every thought must be related to Jesus Christ, for Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.3
Christianity can account for truth, because truth is rooted in Christ. Christianity is truth. We can account for the laws of logic because of God! Please note the pivotal distinction between Christianity and Humanism at this particular point. Humanists try to ground our ability to have knowledge in our own human reasoning with no concrete assertion of its origin. Opposingly, Christianity grounds reason, truth, logic, knowledge, and everything else in God. In technical terms, Humanism is by definition anthropocentric, it is man-focused, man-centered, and man-driven. On the other hand, Christianity is pointedly theocentric, it is God-focused, God-centered, and God-driven. Christianity affirms not only do you need God to know anything, you need the sustaining power of God to swing your feet out of bed in the morning!
Some will mock a bit at this point because of the fact I point out you must be reliant upon God for everything. However, humanism unapologetically asserts you must be totally reliant upon man. I (a Christian) tell you that you are totally reliant upon the completely powerful, inerrant, infallible, holy creator God of the universe, and you (humanists) tell me I am reliable upon fallible, erroneous man under a worldview that can’t even account for truth or logic. Pardon me, but which one of those sounds like a fallacy again? Scoff as you may, but Christians must unapologetically assert our utter reliance upon God. Cornelius Van Til proclaims:
This view of Scripture, therefore, involves the idea that there is nothing in this universe on which human beings can have full and true information unless they take the Bible into account. We do not mean, of course, that one must go to the Bible rather than to the laboratory if one wishes to study the anatomy of a snake. But, if one goes only to the laboratory and not also to the Bible, one will not have a full or even true interpretation of the snake.4
Consequently, what we see is that biblical Christianity accounts for truth in every area of life. We reason from the starting point of God and His Word which is truth and are able to live our lives glorifying to Him through the blood of Christ. Scripture is the starting point for true knowledge since it is where God has specially revealed Himself. Humanism cannot account for the truth it assumes in its underpinning philosophy. Christianity not only accounts for truth, it is itself complete, absolute, and total truth!
2 Jason Lisle, The Ultimate Proof of Creation,p. 25.
3 Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready, p. 4.
4 Cornelius Van Til, Christian Apologetics, p. 20.