Starting Point

Starting points are important.

The options for our conclusions are dependent upon our initial presuppositions. We disallow some results by decisions we make consciously or unconsciously at the beginning.

If it is decided at the start that all must be explained without any reference to a transcendent God, a transcendant God will not be found at the conclusion. If it is predetermined that there can be no intelligent design, miracles, virgin birth, or resurrection, then any evidence or testimony in their favor must be interpreted in some other way.

It seems to me that the best approach at the beginning is to leave all possible conclusions available and only rule them out as the evidence itself makes it necessary.

The naturalist would jump on that statement and claim that the use of the word “possible” would rule out any activity on the part of God because any such activity would be considered miracles, which are by definition impossible. But on what basis do we impose such restrictions on him? If a transcendent God did, in fact, create all there is, should we not expect that “possible” for Him should not be defined by what is possible within that creation? Would He not have the right to set up restrictions on His creation to which He is not Himself bound?

We must understand that it is important in an attempt to determine the way things are, and how they have come to be as they are, that we begin at the right place. That place should include, at least at the start, all potential results of our investigation, including the possibility for the need for faith at some level.

Please understand that I don’t start here with a clean slate. I have drawn some conclusions, some of which I consider set in my mind. Does that mean I have a closed mind? Perhaps on some points I do. I have, at least for myself, settled some questions:

  • That there is a God
  • That He has communicated to us through the Bible
  • That He became a human being in order to die as payment for our sin.
  • That He rose from the dead
  • That we can become His children and have eternal life by trusting in that payment

But I do still have some questions, some of which might raise some evangelical eyebrows. I consider myself to be evangelical. What follows is a list of thoughts I’ve been accumulating about taking a fresh look at our paradigms, presuppositions and the boxes that tend to contain us.

Presuppositions, Boxes, paradigms, open minds, learning from history and records of prior learning and development:

  • How do we free our minds enough to discover new ideas without abandoning the accumulated knowledge of history, science, philosophy, technology, etc.?
  • How do we do so in such a way that we correct the errors in our accumulated knowledge, etc.?
  • No one, except an infant has a clean slate, and even theirs are not really empty at birth. They have learned their mother’s heartbeat, at a minimum before they leave the womb. As soon as they do, we begin to mark their slates – not always neatly – with information, some of which they must know to survive and get along in their culture.
  • We need to take advantage of what we already know, and gather what others have learned. At the same time we need to adjust our knowledge to the truth when we discover error in our understanding.
  • We need to recognize that we have blind spots in our thinking and do all we can to see into them.
  • The mere fact that we were born into a particular path of learning, of choices and of training, does not make that path correct. We need to be especially cautious of our own beliefs because of the danger of hanging onto them only because they are ours. This does not mean that we should automatically dump those beliefs and start over. We really can’t do that. We have to start where we are. But we should be making a special effort to test our understanding with an open mind against other viewpoints. We don’t want to hold onto errors just because we grew up in them or because they are culturally (i.e. politically) correct. (We shouldn’t abandon them for those reasons either.) This is not to divorce ourselves from our cultural background. We also need to discern what issues are really important and which don’t matter.
  • Not every issue is “either, or.” Consider a “both, and” option. But don’t force that either.
  • Once a thought is planted, it is very difficult, if not impossible to uproot it and disregard it entirely or to pretend as if we never heard it. “You cannot un-ring a bell.”

[Cleaned up and modified on 7/30/20.]

Posted by gary in Apologetics, Pre-understandings, 0 comments