A Linguistic Argument For God’s Existence -- By: John R. Baumgardner

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 58:4 (Dec 2015)
Article: A Linguistic Argument For God’s Existence
Author: John R. Baumgardner

A Linguistic Argument For God’s Existence

John R. Baumgardner


Jeremy D. Lyon*

* John Baumgardner is an adjunct instructor at Southern California Seminary, 2075 E. Madison Ave., El Cajon, CA 92019. Jeremy Lyon is associate professor of OT and Hebrew at Truett-McConnell College, 100 Alumni Dr., Cleveland, GA 30528.

I. Introduction

Many arguments to demonstrate the reasonableness of God’s existence have been advanced over past millennia.1 On this issue, the biblical record maintains that clear evidence of God’s reality resides in the natural realm all around us. This evidence is so plain, the record claims, that no human being can fail to have awareness of God’s existence (Rom 1:20). This paper calls attention to a category of reality that provides especially powerful support for God’s existence. Our focus is upon the phenomenon of language. We begin from our own subjective experience of this phenomenon and then extend our considerations to the realm of the material world around us. Because language is so integral to our own mental processes and so intuitive in the way we relate to other human beings, most of us never pause to analyze just what is occurring when we think, write, speak, or process what we read or hear others say. Therefore, a crucial first step in this discussion is to establish clearly what the term “language” entails.

II. What Is Language?

There is an extensive body of scholarly literature, generally under the category of philosophy of language, that deals with this and related questions.2 In this article we deliberately narrow our scope to what we deem to be the most basic aspects of the phenomenon of language. In particular, we shall focus on the close association of language with meaning. And in regard to the term “meaning,” we utilize its widely accepted definition in a linguistic context of “the denotation, referent, or idea associated with a word or phrase.”3 Although the philosophers of language have written a great deal on the nature of meaning, we will restrict our use of the term to this standard definition. Furthermore, in speaking of language we include not only spoken and written human languages, but also the realms of computer languages and mathematics, and the message-bearing sequences of nucleotides in DNA and RNA observed at the molecular level in the biological domain. Hence, our use of the term language agrees in most essential respects with the term formal language used in the fields ...

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