Inaugural Lectures: Something Much Too Plain To Say -- By: K. Scott Oliphint

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 68:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: Inaugural Lectures: Something Much Too Plain To Say
Author: K. Scott Oliphint


Inaugural Lectures:
Something Much Too Plain To Say

K. Scott Oliphint

K. Scott Oliphint is Professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. This article is a revised version of his inaugural lecture, which was delivered on 22 February 2006.

In his recent anthology entitled, The Impossibility of God, Michael Martin notes that there are “basically two kinds of arguments for the nonexistence of God: arguments for the improbability of God and arguments for the impossibility of God.”1 Arguments for the improbability of God deal, in the main, with the notion of evidences. The anthology that Martin produced is meant to address and support the latter kinds of arguments, that is, arguments for the impossibility of God.

In that anthology, Martin arranges arguments for the impossibility of God into five categories: there are definitional disproofs based on an inconsistency in the definition of God; there are deductive evil disproofs based on an inconsistency between the existence of God who has certain attributes and the existence of evil; there are doctrinal disproofs based on an inconsistency between the attributes of God and a particular religious doctrine; there are multiple attributes disproofs based on an inconsistency between two or more divine attributes; and finally there are single attribute disproofs based on an inconsistency within just one attribute. While Martin is clear that this categorization is not written in stone, it should be noted here that in every case the disproofs for the existence of God have to do with God’s attributes and with how a God who is supposed to have certain attributes can, at the same time, relate to his creation or to other attributes he might have by virtue of creation. Since Martin’s contributors— call them Martin’s Minions—argue that there are insuperable contradictions between a God who has these attributes and creation, this kind of God simply cannot exist. Clearly, according to Martin, since the traditional concept of God provides nothing but “an ocean of contradictions,” God cannot exist.2 Or, to put it in the common philosophical vernacular, given certain agreed upon attributes of God, there is no possible world in which he can exist. His existence is, therefore, impossible.

As most of us realize, attacks on the attributes of God are not reserved only for unbelievers. The history of the church is replete with examples of many within the church who have attempted to deny what traditionally have been seen as essential attributes of God. Open t...

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