Covenantal Apologetics And Common-Sense Realism: Recalibrating The Argument From Consciousness As A Test Case -- By: Nathaniel Gray Sutanto

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 057:4 (Dec 2014)
Article: Covenantal Apologetics And Common-Sense Realism: Recalibrating The Argument From Consciousness As A Test Case
Author: Nathaniel Gray Sutanto


Covenantal Apologetics And Common-Sense Realism: Recalibrating The Argument From Consciousness As A Test Case

Nathaniel Gray Sutanto*

* Nathaniel Gray Sutanto is a Masters of Arts in Religion student at Westminster Theological Seminary, 2960 Church Road, Glenside, PA 19038.

Cornelius Van Til argued that theistic arguments are useful so long as one formulates them “in such a way as not to compromise the doctrines of Scripture.”1 He rejects, therefore, not the proofs in and of themselves but the foundation on which the proofs are often presented. Van Til thus argued that it is possible to construe the arguments in a manner consistent with Christian theistic principles, on the one hand, or anti-theistic principles, on the other. The former appeals to them in an indirect fashion as confirmatory of the necessary existence of the self-contained triune God while the latter comes in the form of a direct appeal, often yielding the meager result that some god probably exists. Thus many of Van Til’s intellectual descendants have attempted to show how particular theistic proofs might be appropriated into an apologetic dialogue in a manner consistent with the Reformed worldview.2 I offer, in this paper, then, a Reformed, Covenantal reappropriation of a contemporary popular argument for the existence of God: the argument from consciousness.3 What is attempted in this essay is thus not originality in substance but in application and expansion.

The literature seeking to support, comprehensively formulate, or critically interact with the argument from consciousness has been growing in the past two decades.4 Both theists and non-theists alike have found the argument to be particularly powerful and a nuisance, respectively. Prominent atheist philosopher Thomas

Nagle, for example, argues that if mental states exist in distinction from physical ones, then there is an “explanatory gap” between the two that “cannot be closed” by materialistic accounts.5 This explanatory gap exerts pressure for naturalists and points a way forward for theists, and thus a focus on this argument in particular seems fitting for our purposes. For a paper of this scope, I will focus on one version of the argument from consciousness as produced by prolific evangelical philosopher J. P. Moreland. Moreland has written extensively on this subject,6 but I will f...

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