Presuppositional Apologetics – The Preconditions of Intelligibility

The Preconditions of Intelligibility

To make any rational sense of the world, human beings must start out as knowers. We know that certain things are true, and based on these known facts we build our worldview. Scientists understand this. In order to know that a certain reading or measurement is accurate they must rely on their instruments. Through careful calibration the scientist fine tunes his equipment to ensure proper functioning. In order to know that a measurement is accurate, the scientist must first know that his instrument is accurate. In the same way, human beings, in order to know that what is being perceived is actually accurate, must first know that their senses are reliable, that nature is uniform, that the laws of logic and mathematics are sound, and that morality is upheld, etc. In order to trust the reliability of his mental and sensory faculties, a person must first know that they are valid. These preconditions of intelligibility are only valid if they are upheld by some personal force outside the human being the same way the scientific instruments can only be trusted if they are first validated by the scientist. The Word of God is this validator. It makes sense of the preconditions of intelligibility in such a way that humans can accurately make sense of reality.

  • The Word of God Makes Sense of Reality By Giving Us the Preconditions of Intelligibility

All Preconditions

The Preconditions are anchored in the character and nature of God. He has given us a capacity to understand this nature because we are made in His image.

Col. 1:2c-3 Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Romans 11:36a For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.

Romans 1:19-20 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

The Laws of Logic

The Law of Non-Contradiction: There are no contradictions in God due to His honesty. It is this moral component of God that upholds the idea that there cannot exist two diametrically opposed propositions. Timothy is warned by Paul to avoid contradictions.

The Law of Identity: Whenever God identifies a thing as possessing a distinct identity from other things, He is upholding that identity does exist.

The Law of the Excluded Middle: The Bible constantly affirms there cannot exist a situation in which something both is the case and is not the case.

2 Timothy 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not
make it good?

1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments (i.e. contradictions) of what is falsely called “knowledge “

Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM; and He said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’

Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

The Laws of Morality

Though humans have a sin-filled nature, they also have an innate sense of right and wrong. There is no alternative for this sense than God himself.

Psalm 25:8 Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.

Romans 2:15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

The Reliability of Sense Perception

The Bible repeatedly assumes the reliability of our senses whenever it validates an individual or group of individuals seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, or hearing.

1 John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life

Deut. 4:9 �Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.

Deut. 4:12 “Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form– only a voice.

The Uniformity of Nature

In order to know that the present will be like the past and that the laws of nature are invariable, there must be a prior understanding that they have their foundation in an invariable God. Though miracles are by definition temporary suspensions of God’s laws in nature, they are rare experiences used for specific purposes relative to God’s divine decree.

Genesis 8:22 New American Standard Bible �While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.

Jeremiah 33:20-21 Thus says the LORD, If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers.

Matthew 5:45 So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, an
d sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

The Laws of Mathematics

There are at least 150 references to arithmetic and geometry in the Old and New Testaments.1 Over and over again the Bible shows the laws of mathematics to be valid.

Genesis 5:3-5 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.

In addition, the preconditions of intelligibility must be invariable (Psalm 36:5), absolute (Dan. 4:35), and unchanging (Lam. 3:21-23)three obvious characteristics of the Biblical God. If they are not, we have reason to doubt them. For instance, the laws of logic must always be the same in every situation for us to make use of them. Science depends on this.

1Keister, J. C. Math and the Bible,