Accounting for the Reality of Non-Physical Realities

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Here’s a great apologetics quote by Ken Samples who is on the adult education staff at Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim (URCNA), and whose latest book on worldviews (entitled A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test) is hot off the presses at Baker. Ahhhh, the transcendental argument hard at work!

God uniquely accounts for the reality of abstract, nonphysical realities.

Some of the most important and wondrous realities of life cannot be detected by the human senses. These abstract, intangible realities are conceptual in nature and consist of such things as numbers, propositions, sets, properties, the laws of logic, moral values, and universals. They are considered by many to be objective, universal, and invisible. They clearly don’t appear to be physical in nature nor are they readily reducible to, or explainable in terms of, physical matter and its processes. Materialism as a metaphysical theory faces some insurmountable logic problems. These conceptual entities also don’t appear to be the product of mere human convention (invention). Consider two brief examples.

First, the objective nature of numbers. The notion or idea of “nineness” (symbolized by the number 9) was discovered and certainly utilized by the human mind, but clearly wasn’t invented by the human mind. The reality of nineness is demonstrated in such statements as “The nine planets in the solar system existed prior to the emergence of the first human mind.” At least nine planets in the solar system existed prior to man’s recognition of this fact (and even prior to man’s existence). But if nineness existed prior to the first human mind, then it requires a conceptual foundation.

Christian thinker Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) argued that the human mind apprehends universal, objective, unchanging, and necessary truths superior to the human mind itself. “‘ Since truth must reside in a mind, Augustine reasoned that these eternal truths are grounded in the eternal mind of God. Thus an eternal God exists to explain these eternal truths.

Second, the fundamental laws of logic (for example, the laws of noncontradiction, excluded middle, and identity) are not a product of human convention. The principle of noncontradiction (nothing can both be and not be at the same time and in the same way) is not only cognitively necessary and irrefutable, but it is ontologically true, that is, it defines the very nature of reality itself. Logic also appears to need a foundation beyond the mind of man.

Since mathematics and logic (the foundations of science) have validity and provide human beings with real knowledge about the world, then these two conceptual disciplines couldn’t be about merely subjective and man-made notions; they must be dealing with objective realities. But if these abstract entities are invisible, nonphysical, objective realities, then how can they be accounted for appropriately? Surely the naturalistic worldview – belief that the physical universe is all that exists – isn’t adequate to account for them.

The Christian theistic worldview, however, grounds these conceptual realities in the mind of an in infinite, eternal, and personal spiritual being. God is the Creator of both the visible and the invisible, the source of hods the sensible and the intelligible (Ps. 148:2-5; Col. 1:16-17). In a Christian conceptual framework, God serves as the metaphysical foundation that adequately accounts for these critical conceptual and epistemological entities (independently existing realities).

Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions, by Kenneth Richard Samples, Pgs. 25-26.

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Andrew