Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

5-31-1985

Abstract

In his book, Christian Apologetics, Norman Geisler proposes a universal test for the truth of world views. We examine this concept and find that it raises serious difficulties. This paper first presents some basic definitions for "world view" and "truth-value of a world view," then studies the concept of a universal test for the truth of world views in light of these definitions. Geisler has proposed what amounts to a universal decision procedure to determine the truth-value of world views. We show that, in the general case, no such universal decision procedure exists. Whether or not such universal tests for truth exist within the framework of apologetics depends on the language and domain of discourse, but given the broad nature of the subject matter of apologetics, it is highly unlikely that they do exist. Finally, we consider the problem of identifying a universal test for truth, assuming, that one does exist, and prove that there is no guarantee that such a universal test for truth can ever be known, within the bounds of natural reason, by proving that there is no decision procedure to test for universal test for truth. These results lead to an "open problem
which we pose for apologetics.

This paper makes use of new discoveries in logic spearheaded by Godel's landmark "Incompleteness Theorem" in 1931. Since Aristotle, we have been learning that there are limits on the nature of truth. The recent discoveries in logic have shown that there is a difference between truth and the knowledge of truth, and that there are also limits on the nature of knowledge. The limits have nothing to do with who knows, but with how the knowing is done. The structure of knowledge turns out to be such that, for most (but not all) general systems of truth broad enough to include even the elementary truths of human experience, there is no effective procedural way to know all the truths in such systems as true. It appears that God has not only carefully ordered and structured truth, but He has also placed some fundamental limits on the nature of unaided human knowledge.

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