PAPER NO. 53
COMMON GROUND – PART IV
The Principle of Clarity
Common Ground (CG) in Reason, Integrity and Rational Presuppositionalism leads to the Principle of Clarity (PC).
PC states that some things are clear; the basic things are clear; the basic things (about God and man and good and evil) are clear to reason.
Some things are clear.
- If nothing were clear, then no distinction (a and non-a, being and non-being, true and false, good and evil, more and less) would be clear.
- Without clarity, all distinctions of reason lose their meaning, logically and existentially. Words express concepts and concepts grasp essence. Words without concepts are empty; concepts without essence are blind. From the ancient to the post-modern, sophistry is recurrent.
- One has to deny reason as the laws of thought to fail to see what is clear to reason. Denial of reason is the last step which culminates a long process that neglects, avoids, resists and then finally denies reason, contrary to human nature as rational.
- The denial of reason itself is radical doubt and results necessarily in meaninglessness or nihilism, that is, spiritual death, the increasing loss of all meaning.
- Radical doubt is a universal solvent that denies even the possibility of thought. The increasing loss of all meaning, in every word and thought, is a bottomless pit.
- Radical doubt is self-referentially-absurd, a disregard for integrity, which ends the possibility of all discourse. It reduces itself to silence.
- Radical doubt, the denial of reason itself—in whatever form it takes— is toxic, sinking to the level of demonic doubt; its harmfulness must be recognized as such and avoided by all.
- The light of reason shines in the darkness of unbelief and the darkness cannot overcome it or resist it (John 1:5). Some things are clear.
The basic things are clear.
- Thinking is presuppositional: we think of the less basic in light of the more basic (see earlier explanation of rational presuppositionalism).
- If there is agreement on the more basic there will be agreement on the less basic, in a step-by-step process.
- To resolve a dispute logically, it is necessary to get to the more basic.
- To resolve all disputes, it is necessary to get to the most basic level: to the philosophical, theological and historical foundations; to the logically most basic—reason, as the self-attesting Word of God; and to the existentially most basic—one’s view of good and evil.
- If the more basic were not clear, then nothing would be clear. But some things are clear (from 1 above). Therefore, basic things are clear.
- No experience is meaningful without interpretation (vs. all forms of empiricism).
- All experience is interpreted in light of one’s set of basic beliefs. There are just two (contradictory) sets of basic beliefs.
- Basic beliefs must be tested for meaning by the critical use of reason. It is clear to reason that only one set of basic beliefs can be and is coherent.
The basic things (about God and man and good and evil) are clear to reason.
- The basic things are about the most basic questions we can ask: how do I know? (epistemology); what is real? (metaphysics); and, what ought I to do, or, what is good and evil? (ethics).
- The basic things are about the basic/foundational beliefs, which begin with the cornerstone of epistemology, and develop into one’s overall worldview that expresses itself in culture.
- The basic things about God and man (metaphysics) and good and evil (ethics) are clear to reason (epistemology). While epistemology is logically most basic, ethics is existentially most basic. Ethics is derived from the nature of things: good for a being is according to the nature of that being, which nature is metaphysically most basic.
- If there is no clear general revelation (cGR), then there is no possibility of inexcusability (for man as a rational being), no actuality of sin and death, no necessity for redemption (the focus of the Christian faith), or for a redeemer (Christ), or for redemptive revelation (Scripture)—since all words lose their meaning.
Redemptive Revelation (RR) assumes cGR (Romans 1:20) and cGR requires RR through the answer to the problem of evil (POE).
The POE is the most common obstacle logically and existentially to belief in God.
Due to the noetic effect of sin/evil, evil is most commonly misunderstood.
Evil (moral and natural), when understood is, ironically, the strongest reason for theism (belief in creation and redemption) vs. deism (belief in creation without redemption).
Both general and special revelation become clear subjectively if and only if all the elements of Common Ground are in place existentially.
Foundation begins existentially if and only if the cornerstone of good and evil are seen as clear to reason. Reason as the laws of thought is the light of the Logos in all men (John 1:4), and is understood as distinct from all forms of empiricism (tradition/testimony, common sense, intuition, science). Understanding is an act of reason which arises only by diligently seeking, not spontaneously by intuition. All are called to seek diligently. (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 3:10-11).
If the cornerstone is in place from general revelation, Scripture, and the historically cumulative insights of Christianity, then we can go on, through all the steps, from foundation to fullness (Isaiah 11:9).