Admissions Of Philosophical Scepticism -- By: Ransom Bethune Welch

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 031:124 (Oct 1874)
Article: Admissions Of Philosophical Scepticism
Author: Ransom Bethune Welch

Admissions Of Philosophical Scepticism

Rev. Ransom Bethune Welch

Philosophical scepticism, not content with occupying the neutral ground of doubt, prefers to be polemic. Studiously avoiding the defensive, it adopts an aggressive policy. Affecting the hauteur of positivism, it boasts that along its march lie tattered creeds and theologians slain. By this dialectic legerdemain it has been wont to divert critical attention from itself, and impose the burden of proof upon Christian theism.

Christianity has never shirked the burden of proof. The Master assumed it, as a divine Teacher pointing to divine credentials, saying: “Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:4-5. “The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (John 10:25). “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works” (John 10:37-38).

The apostles, as they proclaimed the gospel of Christ, accepted the burden of proof. Peter declares: “We have not followed cunningly devised fables,….but were eyewitnesses of his majesty…..The voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him in the holy mount” (2 Pet. 1:16, 17-18. “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen” (John 3:11). And they charged the disciples, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you “(1 Pet. 3:15).

But while Christianity, in the spirit of the Master, is always ready to take the burden of proof, and frankly answer the inquiries of every candid mind, it has a logical and a moral right, after eighteen hundred years of recognition by the best and the most intelligent individuals and nations, — it has a right to claim the presumption in its favor, to challenge the strength of its modern adversary, and put philosophical scepticism upon the defensive. The inevitable reply to this challenge is the acknowledged inability to prove that there is no God. This acknowledgment, however reluctant, is universal. The attempt, persistent and repeated, has issued not in demonstration, but in denial, supported evermore by negative premises, like the assertion of La Plac...

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