Pre-thoughts on Clark and Van Til

Back in the day I was an ardent Van Til supporter.  I am no longer, and here is why.  These are reasons I’ve come up with from my own reflections.  I am rejecting Van Til largely independent of the Clark debate, simply because I have no read enough Clark to sufficiently comment on that.

  1. In order for Van Til’s apologetic to work, one must know an insane amount of Hegelian and German Idealist philosophy.  I actually do, sort of.  But if that is the precondition for knowing Van Til, surely there is a better way?
  2. I’ve listened to a few Clark lectures, and while I am not sure of the ins and outs of Scripturalism, I think Clark’s critique of Van Tillian arguments is pretty good.
  3. Clark has a clearer style and can be utilized by more people.

Moving on, I think a lot of Clarkians have really overplayed Van Til’s real influence. True, Westminster Seminary is Van Tillian, but how many there really understand what Van Til said?  In Frame’s book on Van Til Frame doubted most really caught on to what Van Til said.

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15 comments on “Pre-thoughts on Clark and Van Til

  1. olivianus says:

    yesterday, I had an email conversation with ans I asked him about Morris Kline’s book Mathematics Loss of certainty and then asked him “I guess what I want to specifically ask you is how we know that the
    mathematics that we write down on paper represents the physical world?” He replied, “That is a question that, in my opinion, cannot be answered”.

    If there is no empirically demonstrable mathematics, there is no science, thus no physical scientific laws. That’s a check-mate for the Clarkians.

    • Let me ask my former Calculus teacher. Yes, he’s no PhD. But he’s a philosophy guy, and has a lot to say on these matters. Remember, we must know our limitations…that’s important.

      • olivianus says:

        “Now I think my internet acquaintenance is making huge leaps from the professors point, to say there is no empirically demonstrable mathematics, and he make more leaps and so forth.”

        How is what i said a leap?

        “It sounds like the kind of arguments a “solipsist” would make. Basically, they are not sure that anything else besides what their mind can conceive.”

        Not so. The scripture speaks of the existence of many other persons.

        “A solipsist may just be a brain in a vat.”

        >>>Not so. Scripturalism affirms the Coherency theory of truth. Having examined the Scriptures and beholden their coherence and consistency, one receives a self attestation of its truth and the ego becomes self aware of its regeneration. That involves more than a brain in a vat.

      • Ok, no prob, Drake.

        Hey I don’t have time right now. But when I say you are making a “leap,” you are saying, as I understand, that we don’t know whether a triangle with 180 degrees really exists. Well, you are right. It only exists “in my mind.” As a point worth noting, in my class with my teacher (actually, he was my freshman geometry teacher, and my senior year calculus and philosophy teacher), geometry class, I did a report on “non-euclidian geometry.” Look it up on wikipedia, if you are unaware. Interesting stuff – not all triangles have exactly 180 degrees. I think it’s slightly less.

        You are defining the terms “empirically demonstrable math” and “science” in ways that I do not feel comfortable defining.

        But….

        You know that I consider you to be knowledgable.

        Let me think these over, Drake. I don’t mean to say that I completely dismiss you out of hand, on semantic differences. I’m willing and committed to further thought on what you have written, and the book you mention.

        Let me think it over. I’m honestly trying to help, and not to stir up controversy or cause you or any reader grief.

        Like Lando being choked by Chewbacca, “ONLY TRYING TO HELP!”

        Peace.

        AB

      • PS Basically, Drake, let me look into Clark and get back to you. Peace.

  2. I’ve seen a Russian Orthodox priest make the same type of argument (though I doubt he’s heard of Clark). It’s an interesting new field I am reading.

  3. olivianus says:

    Cyril, Could you delete my quote of Thomas Riedel above. He told me he didn’t want our email exchange showing up on a blog. Could you substitute “He replied, “That is a question that, in my opinion, cannot be answered”.”

    with the paraphrase,

    “He replied that the question could not be answered”.

  4. olivianus says:

    Andrew,

    “I did a report on “non-euclidian geometry.” Look it up on wikipedia, if you are unaware. Interesting stuff – not all triangles have exactly 180 degrees. I think it’s slightly less.”

    >>That is one of the primary issues in Morris Kline’s book that i mentioned above. I wrote a review of his book here: http://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/book-review-morris-klines-mathematics-the-loss-of-certainty-picking-up-where-dr-clark-left-off/

    “You are defining the terms “empirically demonstrable math” and “science” in ways that I do not feel comfortable defining.”

    >>You are probably going to do the same thing Kant did which is to posit all the laws in apriori structures of the mind, thus positing the laws to be in the mind NOT in the physical world. That is partially and substantially my view, and I have no problem with it. But again, it gives no help to empirical science, only operation.

    • Thanks, Drake, for addressing my comments. I mean it when I say I don’t know as much as you. I will look over your piece of writing on the math book. Peace.

    • In regard to your last comment, I would simply say that “it gives no help to empirical science” would be my form of saying, “to reveal the laws of science are to reveal God’s ways.” Or the famous quote that I think is attributed to Kepler: “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”

      I know I am going to get myself in trouble here…but:

      Here’s what I like, when I read this, several years ago:

      “Herman Bavinck made similar points. When dealing with the issue of harmonizing Scripture with science, he claimed that there is the book of nature and there is the book of Scripture. When conflicts arise, it is usually due to our own misunderstandings. “Conflict arises only because both the text of the book of Scripture and the text of the book of nature are often so badly read and poorly misunderstood.”[15] It may sound somewhat striking to our ears, but that same theologian said, “No one has any objection, no one can have any objection, to the facts advanced by geology. These facts are just as much words of God as the content of Holy Scripture and must therefore be believingly accepted by everyone. But these facts must be rigorously distinguished from the exegesis of these facts that geologists present.”[16] These are striking statements advanced by a Reformed theologian of the highest caliber.”

      http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=220&cur_iss=F

      Did I open a can of worms?

      • On a personal note, I’m kind of a science nut. I really liked this Mars rover stuff, for example. Spent much of my lunch break talking about Mars stuff. The pictures are neato! But that’s just me…

  5. olivianus says:

    Andrew,

    “to reveal the laws of science are to reveal God’s ways.”

    >>>Ecc 8: 17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

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