Univocal Reasoning

“Here then, are the marks of the natural man in his attitude toward the interpretation of the facts (events) of the world:

(1) He thinks of himself as the ultimate judge of what can or cannot be. He will not allow any authority to stand above him revealing to him what may or may not have happened in the past or what may or may not happen in the future.

(2) This assertion or assumption of autonomy on the part of man makes a covert, if not an overt assertion about the nature of God. God (it is assumed if not asserted) cannot be of such a nature as to control any and all phenomena.

(3) These two assertions or assumptions imply a third: that man’s thought is, in the final analysis, absolutely original. Whatever his ultimate environment may be, the area of interpretation that man makes for himself will be true for him because his thought is in effect legislative with respect to that environment.

(4) The facts of man’s environment are not created or controlled by the providence of God. They are brute facts, uninterpreted and ultimately irrational. The universe is a Chance controlled universe. It is a wholly open universe. Yet, at the same time, it is a closed universe. It is so in this sense: it cannot be what. Christ says it is, namely, created, governed, and redeemed by him. In this one respect the cosmos is closed—there can be no such God as the Bible reveals. This is the universal negative of the openminded men of philosophy and science.

Herbert Feigl seems to see this great gulf fixed between the men of science and philosophy and the people of God when he says: If by religion one refers to an explanation of the universe and a derivation of moral norms from theological premises, then indeed there is logical incompatibility with the results, methods, and general outlook of science. 5

The basically important point about all this is that the scientist as well as the philosopher and the theologian, unless he be converted to Christ by his Spirit, follows the method that was introduced into the world by Adam when he listened to Satan. The essence of this method is that man starts and finishes his interpretation about any and every aspect of life with the assumption of his own autonomy, with the assumption of the brute factuality of the material with which he deals; and with the assumption of abstract formality of the logic which he uses to relate the brute facts to one another.”

(Van Til, The Reformed Doctrine of Scripture)

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