Positivism


TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH RC SPROUL

Positivism
==========
Psalm 19
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims
his
handiwork” (v. 1).

Metaphysics is the study of that which transcends the
physical realm accessed
by our five senses. Every worldview has its own
answer to the single most
important metaphysical question: What principle
makes sense of the diversity
of creation? Is there something that explains
the existence of the universe
and demonstrates how the tremendous variety of “things” (dogs, stars, flowers,
sand, and so on) all fit together as pieces
of the whole?

Christian theology has always said that this unifying
principle is the Creator
who stands above all things. God is the one who
makes sense of everything.
Non-Christian philosophers have suggested that an
abstract concept, such as
reason serves as the unifying principle.

The nineteenth-century French thinker Auguste Comte was dissatisfied with both
theological and philosophical views of metaphysics and turned to
sociology. He
said human society passes through three stages as it matures.
In the stage of
infancy, religion dominates one’s study of the world.
Philosophy is the means
by which the world is understood in society’s
adolescence. Adulthood comes
when empirical science alone is used to
comprehend reality.

A movement called positivism expanded upon these
theories. Denying that we
could get to a single explanation for all things,
positivism tried to
understand each of the many particulars in our universe
“scientifically.”
Since nothing brings unity, everything is relative. There
is no final standard
or ultimate criterion of transcendent truth, so we might
as well give up our
search.

Logical positivists said a statement has
meaning only if it is empirically
verifiable. If the senses cannot test it,
we can have no knowledge of it. This
principle guides most scientists today
even if they do not call themselves
logical positivists. Yet the idea that a
statement has meaning only if it can
be empirically verified is
self-refuting. This maxim itself cannot be tested
empirically; there is no
way for the five senses to verify it. It is therefore
meaningless according
to the guiding idea of logical positivism. Logical
positivism fails as a
viable worldview if its basic tenet has no meaning
according to its own
standards.

Coram deo: Living before the face of
God
========================================
Many scientists say that a
Creator does not exist or that there is no way of
knowing if He exists
because we cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell Him.
Today’s passage,
however, states that there is empirical evidence to support
the existence of
God. Creation testifies to the reality of God (Ps. 19:1–6;
Rom. 1:18–32).
Take some time this week to find and make use of a good
apologetic resource
that discusses the evidence for the Lord’s existence.

For further
study:

Jeremiah 5:21–22

The Bible in a year:

Joshua
23–24

For the weekend:

Judges 1–5

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