How Do I Know that I Know?

In 2013, I had the privilege of participating in both a written and panel dialog/debate with K. Scott Oliphint of Westminster Seminary and Jason Lisle founder of the Biblical Science Institute. Oliphint is a theologian and Lisle is an astrophysicist. Both are proponents of the apologetic method of Presuppositionalism in the tradition of Cornelius Van Til.

Recently a student of mine asked me how I would respond to one of Jason Lisle’s challenges to me. I contend that all knowledge begins in the senses and is completed in the intellect. (Lest the reader misunderstand what I specifically mean by my use of the term ‘knowledge’ in this context, he is encouraged to read my blog article titled “Discussing Aquinas” here.) Lisle asked, “How does he know that he’s not in the ‘Matrix’ and that his sensory experiences have nothing to do with the real world?”[1] In helping the student by answering Lisle’s question directly, I also wanted to take the occasion to set Lisle’s question in a broader philosophical context to see how his question conceals certain philosophical assumptions that need to be surfaced and examined. Continue reading

Thanks, Dr. Geisler

I thought it might be fitting to eulogize Dr. Norman L. Geisler in the manner of our mutual philosophical mentor, Thomas Aquinas.

QUESTION 1

Of Bestowing Accolades Upon a Creature

First Article
Whether It Is Fitting to Bestow Accolades Upon Dr. Norman L. Geisler
on the Occasion of His Passing

        Obj. 1. It would seem that it is not fitting to bestow accolades upon and praise the life and achievements of Dr. Norman L. Geisler for no one deserves to be praised “for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” as the Apostle Paul says in Rom. 3:23. 

        Obj. 2. It would seem that it is not fitting to bestow accolades and praise for the good we have experienced in our relationships with Dr. Norman L. Geisler for “no one is good but One, that is God” as the Lord Jesus says in Matt. 19:17.

        On the contrary, the Scriptures command us to “render therefore to all their due … honor to whom honor.” (Rom. 13:7). Further the Scriptures command, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” (1 Tim. 5:17)

        I answer that, that Dr. Norman L. Geisler deserves the accolades bestowed upon him can be proved in five ways. The first and most manifest way is the argument from family. Dr. Geisler was an exemplary husband to his loving wife Barbara and the loving father, grandfather, and great-grandfather to his children, his children’s children, and their children. The second way is the argument from evangelism. Dr. Geisler helped the unbeliever see the truth of Christ by his teaching, his many writings, and his many debates with unbelievers. The third way is the argument from restoration. Dr. Geisler helped believers to be strengthened in their faith who had been stumbled by the false arguments of unbelievers. The fourth way is the argument of apologetics. Dr. Geisler, by his careful reasoning and argumentation, helped stop the mouths of the “insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers” as the Apostle Paul commanded in Titus 1:11. The fifth way is the argument of edification. Dr. Geisler, by means of his writings and teachings, has equipped and continues to equip many saints “for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” as the Apostle Paul instructs us in Eph. 4:12.

        Reply Obj. 1. Despite the fact that all have sinned, it remains in our power as believers to do good, as the Apostle Paul instructs us in Gal. 6:10 that “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Dr. Norman L. Geisler has done much good through his deeds, teachings, writings, and debates. Since good is worthy of acknowledgement and praise, it is fitting to bestow accolades upon him.

        Reply Obj. 2. Goodness can cause a thing to fittingly deserve accolades and praise in two ways. One way that a being can be the worthy of praise and admiration is because it is intrinsically good as goodness itself. But only God is goodness itself. In this way no created thing deserves praise and admiration but God alone. A second way goodness can cause a thing to fittingly deserve accolades and praise is when it, as a created being, is an instrument used of God to finitely display God’s own infinite goodness. In this way, since Dr. Norman L. Geisler has been used of God as such an instrument, it is fitting to acknowledge his achievements and to bestow upon him such accolades.

Thanks for everything you let God to do for me through you. See you later.
Richard G. Howe

Discussing Aquinas

I recently had a thoughtful young man ask me a question about God’s simplicity (the doctrine that says that God is not composed of any parts—metaphysical or otherwise), particularly in regard to God being able to freely create or freely not create. This entry, mutatis mutandis, is the heart of my admittedly too brief and undeveloped response to him. Continue reading

The Moral Argument for God’s Existence: Some Thomistic Natural Law Musings

In continuing my discussion on theistic arguments, I would be remiss if I said nothing about the moral argument—surely the most popular argument for God’s existence currently making the rounds. Perhaps the most familiar, cogently set forth, and adroitly defended version of the moral argument is by the eminent contemporary Christian philosopher, apologist, and scholar William Lane Craig.[1] His common formulation of the argument is:  Continue reading

Theistic Arguments: Now and Then

I have benefited greatly from the array of arguments for God’s existence that apologists have used over the years, including the cosmological, teleological, and moral. In fact, I did my Master’s thesis at Ole Miss on William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument. I thought then as I still think today that the argument is sound. What is more, not only have I benefited from these arguments, I have taught them in my apologetics courses and have used them in debates. Continue reading

On Colin Brown and Philosophy

Recently, some friends of mine, in an email exchange, mentioned Colin Brown’s book Philosophy and the Christian Faith (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1968). I like Brown’s Philosophy and the Christian Faith except for the part about philosophy! In my (perhaps not so) humble and modest opinion, he is wrong on a number of crucial points. For the sake of intellectual stimulation among my nearly one dozen readers, I thought I’d post my thoughts I sent back to my email friends. To be sure, I broach a number of philosophical points, many of which demand explanation and defending. Still, I wanted to throw these observations and criticisms out to my readers. Continue reading

Metaphysics and Formal Logic, Again: A Rejoinder to W. Paul Franks

Professor Paul Franks has graciously responded to my post regarding an issue between us about the logic of a syllogism by Norman L. Geisler found in Geisler’s book If God, Why Evil? My post was in response to Professor Franks’ original post where Franks argues that Geisler’s syllogism, when rendered in a formal logical schema, commits the fallacy of denying the antecedent. (The reader should note that Professor Franks is not necessarily denying the truth of Geisler’s conclusion. He is only challenging Continue reading

Metaphysics and Formal Logic

I find formal logic very interesting and powerful. I have enjoyed the times I’ve been able to teach it in my courses and have benefited from it numerous times in analyzing the validity of arguments. But as a Thomist who is an enthusiast of Henry Babcock Veatch and others, I’ve come to see more and more the shortcomings that the Continue reading

Do We Have Moral Obligations to Future Generations?

There’s a thought I’ve mulled over now and again for some time and I wondered what anyone else might think about this issue. What better time to write on it than “Back to the Future Day”— the day in the future that Marty McFly went to in the movie Back to the Future II. (I realize that “Back to the Future Day” is Oct. 21, 2015 and that I’m posting this on Oct. 20, 2015, but (perhaps ironically to some) I’m anticipating what my writing today might have on the readers tomorrow.)  Continue reading