The Biblical God: The Precondition of Intelligibility

This post, while being very relevant to the context of my previous post and the one coming fast on its heels, is a “stand-alone.” I apologize for the formatting.

When the Christian sets forth his outlook he will stress the kind of God to whom he is committed, the nature of the world in relation to God, and the nature of man as God’s creature.  The Christian God is totally self-sufficient, and in Him there is an equal ultimacy of unity and diversity (being Triune).  Everything outside of Him derives its existence, character, meaning, and purpose in light of Him and His sovereign counsel. – Greg L. Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, 16.


Logic/Reason…..precondition ……. God who is immaterial perfect rationality

Morality…………..precondition ……..God who is righteous

Truth……………….precondition ……..God who is unchanging Truth

Uniformity……….precondition ……..God who upholds regularity (providence)

Order………………..precondition ……..God who imprints His order on creation

Subject-Object….precondition ……..God creates us (body/soul), the world for us

Love………………….precondition ……..God who is Love and demonstrates it

Beauty………………precondition ……..God who is artistic & gives us aesthetic abilities

Language…………..precondition ……..God who speaks

Good………………….precondition ……..God who is perfectly Good

Evil…………………….precondition ……..God who permits declension from Himself

False Beliefs………..precondition ……..God who (for now) allows rebellion

Personality………….precondition ……..God who is Personal

Relationship………..precondition ……..God who is social

One & Many…………precondition ……..God who is both One and Many (Trinitarian)

Science………………..precondition ……..God who gives skills & conditions for analysis

History………………..precondition ……..God who created & guides with a telos in view

Number……………….precondition ……..God who is Triune and infinite

Ecology………………..precondition ……..God who gives us oversight of His creation

Salvation………………precondition ……..God who reconciles humanity in His Son

Worship………………..precondition ……..God who evokes praise in the saints

Hope……………………..precondition ……..God who raises Christ from the dead

Meaning………………..precondition ……..God who made us in His image


Glory to God alone!


  1. With respect, this is a list of unsupported assertions. You cannot – although it has been tried enough times – prove or even demonstrate the existence of god through pure reason. It becomes a mere form of words, signifying nothing real.

    It’s all very tidy, of course, but there are plenty of preconditions you’ve left out here, and others that don’t necessarily permit of the presupposition of your concept of god.

    Just to choose a few examples:

    Language – a necessary precondition is in fact the human ability to speak.

    Number – a world of discrete objects. A triune god is not only logically contradictory by the very laws of logic you believe emanate from his nature, but unless we can form concepts of discrete objects on the basis of experiencing them as real, we would have no such abstraction as ‘number’.

    Evil – highly problematic in a universe in which a an all-powerful and all-good god participates; it is, on the other hand, quite possible to suppose, from the way we perceive the world to be, that an all-powerful, all-evil god is just as if not more likely than the Christian version – see Stephen Law’s God of Eth posts.

    Relationships and personality – would seem to require social beings, and we know social beings exist, even nonhuman ones. It doesn’t follow that a personal, social god is necessary for these things.

  2. The point of this post is to show how the God of Scripture is necessary for us to make sense of these things. When you label it “a list of unsupported assumptions” you are again not fully appreciating the point being made.

    I am saying this is a list of necessary assumptions! Look at your examples:

    Language – All you have really said here is that humans can use language, which is a tautology if you are providing its precondition. Your worldview, being 1. impersonal, 2. non-teleological, 3. unconscious, 4. blind, 5. meaningless,
    and 6. deterministic, can service the preconditions of language no better than it could provide the preconditions for humans to speak them.

    Number – You need to demonstrate how your worldview can give the necessary preconditions for our ability to “form concepts of discrete objects on the basis of experiencing them as real.” You are just assuming something your understanding of reality (were you to follow through on it) does not allow you to assume.

    The doctrine of the Trinity is that God is three PERSONS and one ESSENCE. For it to be contradictory it would have to be three persons and one person in the same sense. This shows once more your lack of biblical nous. Besides, you cannot use the laws of logic which you seem to believe are always changing (so unlaw-like) to argue your point unless you can show where they come from. Are the laws of logic real? Does mathematics allow us to conceive of immaterial concepts and construct them to function in the material world? Yes. But how come?

    Evil – In your worldview (or Stephen Law’s) evil would be eternal. Just part of the way things are and will always be. Stephen Law’s god could not provide the preconditions of intelligibility either. He too, would just take them for granted whilst not showing how they could be possible from his materialistic standpoint.
    How would he (or you) define evil since you would need first to establish moral absolutes from which to declaim on “moral depravity.”? If you take recourse to convention, then why ought I or anybody else agree with your convention. And if your worldviews could not do that, all talk of an “evil” god would be meaningless. After all, the universe is amoral!

    Your last sentence is another tautology. You just assume “social beings exist” which is the same as saying “relationships and personality just exist.” You need to get down to the hard work of showing HOW you account for things given your starting point. The God of the Bible certainly can explain all these things (and anything else you might ask about). What would your list look like?



  3. The point of this post is to show how the God of Scripture is necessary for us to make sense of these things. When you label it “a list of unsupported assumptions” you are again not fully appreciating the point being made.

    I get that you’re saying you think you need to suppose these things in order to make sense of human experiences and capabilities, but that’s as far as it goes. Other suppositions and explanations do just as well, if not better – hence my comments regarding language. Language is a continually evolving means of communication and a vehicle for abstract thought. In fact, it’s supposed by some that language was actually a necessary precursor to abstract thought. It is an evolved mechanism with complex physical components, but one that must have proved valuable to the cohesiveness and survival of tribes of our hominid ancestors. You appear to suppose that the language – and presumably the abstract thought – pre-existed in the mind of your god. Now, both of these sets of beliefs make sense of the ability of humans to use language, but I think the former is a better fit for experience and has more explanatory power.

    The doctrine of the Trinity is that God is three PERSONS and one ESSENCE. For it to be contradictory it would have to be three persons and one person in the same sense. This shows once more your lack of biblical nous.

    Actually, I think it shows that my BS detector is in good working order. What does any of this even mean? How does a non-physcial/immaterial entity have an essence, or anything that could be distinguished from that and called a person? This kind of makes sense in the case of Jesus, but I think you’ve got your work cut out explaining the other two.

    In your most recent post, you asked me to point out where I got the idea that the biblical god was ‘capricious’. I suppose this means that you’re going to try and tell me that it was perfectly consistent and steady of him to command Abraham to slaughter his only son and then stay his hand at the last minute? What a guy! And that it was likewise perfectly understandable for god to promise Noah after the flood that there would always be night and day, then to send a plague of darkness on the Egyptians, and make the sun stand still for Joshua? Or that it was just his high spirits when he decided to ‘harden Pharaoh’s heart’ (nice job interfering with free will there, by the way) in order to give himself glory(!) and provide himself with an excuse for inflicting maximum suffering on the Egyptians? This is the kind of behaviour we normally associate with psychopaths and megalomaniacs. Maybe you’ll tell me that I’m not reading it right, but I don’t think any creative interpretation can exonerate god from the charge levelled by Dawkins, of being a ‘capriciously malevolent bully’.

    You opined in a previous post that there is an ethical dimension to my rejection of a biblical worldview. Well, of course there is! What thinking person would think it’s ‘good’ to live in subservience to a vainglorious monster like Yahweh? What sense is there in worshipping such a being? Furthermore, how is it ethically sound to subscribe to the doctrine of vicarious atonement that is central to Christianity? Again, I expect you to come back with an accusation of misrepresentation, or misinterpretation, but the fact is I’ve been there and done that and I’m over the cognitive dissonance and religious doublethink. When you call a spade a spade, rather than indulging in obscurantism, things become a lot clearer, and Christianity starts to resemble the vulgar mystery-cult clone that it is when you don’t spend all your time trying to pretty it up with fancy explanations – like yours for the trinity – that might look good on paper and roll easily from the tongue, but don’t make any sense in relation to the real world.

  4. DD, this is pure rant. If you can give your list of preconditions to match mine by starting from hydrogen gas and Descartes’ mistrust of perception and questionable proof of a “Self” please do so. Your disagreements amount to mere opinions which are not possible to even hold if your interpretation of reality is true (in fact, the word “true” itself has no meaning in your naturalistic, deterministic worldview).

    1. It just goes to show that he hates the God he knows to exist. If all the events he brought up in Scripture were pure fiction would he react the same way. Would he place billboards stating that a fictional character in a story doesn’t exist?

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