Kenneth R. Samples: “A World of Difference”

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I’ve been reading through my copy of Kenneth R. Samples’ new book A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test. Ken is not only an excellent lecturer, as evidenced by his amazing Sunday school and Academy courses at Christ Reformed Church, he is an equally clear and cogent writer.

In chapter 2, Ken lists 9 tests to which any given worldview (whether Christian or non-Christian) can be subjected. Ken explains: “These tests examine worldviews for coherence, balance, explanatory power and scope, correspondence, verification, practicality, livability, diversity of support, and competitive competence” (pg. 32).

I thought I’d share Ken’s words on the coherence test:

1. Coherence Test: Is a particular worldview logically consistent?

A logical test for the truth of a worldview evaluates its coherence or logical consistency. Truth will always be wholly consistent within itself, displaying internal logical harmony. The coherence test stresses the crucial unity and relatedness of all truth. Therefore any logical inconsistency in the basic elements of a worldview is a mark of essential error.

The fundamental law of logic (the law of noncontradiction) states that two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time and in the same respect (see chapter 3). Genuine contradiction in the central claims of a worldview signifies a false belief system. . . .

A satisfactory worldview will also avoid self-stultification. This problem occurs when a statement asserts a particular principle that, if applied back to that statement, contradicts it (in other words, the claim fails to meet its own standard). For example, the statement “There is no truth” is self-stultifying because it purports to assert the “truth” that there is no truth . . . .

Further, to avoid being self-defeating, a worldview must provide a sufficient and meaningful basis for rationality itself. A worldview that cannot account for the rational process itself cannot possibly be true but would instead be incoherent.

There must be legitimate grounds for reason and argumentation in a sound worldview. People must, in fact, be capable of authentic intellectual deliberation. (Chapters 12 and 14 show how related problems impact naturalism and pantheism.)

Coherence in a necessary condition for truth but not a sufficient one. In other words, truth must contain coherence, but coherence isn’t all that is needed in order to possess truth. Philosopher L. Russ Bush explains what truth requires: “It is conceivable, however, for a system of thought to demonstrate a measure of rational consistency (given its assumptions) and yet still be false. Failing to achieve consistency is a mark of error, but it takes more than abstract consistency to demonstrate truthfulness.”

Incoherence shows that a worldview must be false; coherence shows that a worldview may be true. As important as coherence is, more is needed for a worldview to pass the ultimate truth test.
(Pg. 33; emphasis mine)

I especially like the paragraph I underlined. Those out there who share my appreciation for VanTil will know why! Here Ken musters the TAG (transcendental argument or internal critique) in worldview evaluation. I’m even willing to go a step further and add a bit to the first sentence of the last paragraph: “Since only the Christian worldview can demonstrate its coherence, via the impossibility of the contrary, every non-Christian world view must be false and thus, only the Christian world view may be, and in fact is, true” (Andrew’s midrash).

This is a really great book. Grab it when you get the chance!

——
by Andrew

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