Challenging Unbelief and
Exposing self-Refuting Contradictions by Jack Kettler 2012
Positions claiming absolute certainty:
Consider the assertion: there is no God.
First, the Christian must point out that the unbeliever has not looked and cannot look
everywhere for God. The unbeliever would have to possess the divine attributes of
omniscience and omnipresence in order to make an assertion of this nature with any
credibility. Moreover, since the unbeliever is finite, he cannot be certain of his
assertion because proof for God's existence may be in a place where he has not looked.
Therefore, the unbeliever has no ground to claim his assertion is correct because he in
reality cannot be absolutely sure about his assertion. The unbeliever is basically saying;
You cant know anything for sure. The unbeliever cannot be sure of his
own assertion without contradicting himself. Said another way the unbeliever is saying;
You cant know anything for certain. You reply by asking, are you certain
of that? As you have just seen, the unbeliever has refuted himself.
The following comments by Cornelius Van Til on atheism are most instructive:
Even making the statement God does not exist would be impossible if God did
not exist. No statement can be made about chaos, abstract plurality. Without any order to
the world, words would never have a consistent meaning. This is x would be
equivalent to This is not x. God does not exist would be
equivalent to God does exist. The words God, does,
not, and exist would suffer the same possibility of becoming their
opposites, or anything else; nor would there be any relationship between any of the words.
To say that God does not exist is to make a universal negative claim, yet on the basis of
a plurality that excludes all unity, universal claims are not possible. On the other hand,
on the basis of an abstract unity as ultimate, no words would have any content. Once
again, "is" would be equivalent to "is not." All would be a blank.
God, as a concrete universal, must exist in order for the statement God does not
exist to be intelligible. Antitheism presupposes theism. One must stand upon the
solid ground of theism to be an effective antitheist. Finally, agnosticism is morally
self-contradictory since it pretends to be very humble in its insistence that it makes no
sweeping conclusions, while as a matter of fact it has mad a universal negative conclusion
in total reliance upon itself. The natural man is at enmity against God.(1)
Positions claiming absolute uncertainty:
We cannot know whether God exists or not.
The Christian must show the unbeliever that though his position may seem safe and neutral
on the surface, it is actually a bold statement about God and His world. The assertion is
claiming that God has not made himself known in a way that should be accepted by everyone.
The Christian must respond by explaining to the unbeliever that he has not searched
everywhere to see if there is any clear evidence for God's existence. Moreover, the
unbeliever is in reality unable to look everywhere without possessing divine attributes.
The unbeliever is basically saying; There is no certainty. He cannot be
certain of that without contradicting himself? Therefore, the unbeliever cannot be sure
about his agnosticism and therefore, his position and objection is not valid. Again, as
you have just seen, the unbeliever has refuted himself.
Cornelius Van Til speaking of Agnosticism says:
[Agnosticism] is, in the first place, psychologically self-contradictory upon its own
assumptions. Agnosticism wants to hold that it is reasonable to refrain from thorough
epistemological speculations because they cannot lead to anything. But in order to assume
this attitude, agnosticism has itself made the most tremendous intellectual assertion that
could be made about ultimate things. In the second place, agnosticism is epistemologically
self-contradictory on its own assumptions because its claim to make no assertion about
ultimate reality rests upon a most comprehensive assertion about ultimate reality. . . .
the alternative is not between saying something about ultimate reality or not saying
anything about it, but that the alternative is rather between saying one thing about it or
another. Every human being, as a matter of fact, says something about ultimate reality.
It should be noted that those who claim to say nothing about ultimate reality not only do
say something about it just as well as everybody else, but they have assumed for
themselves the responsibility of saying one definite thing about ultimate reality. They
have assumed the responsibility of excluding God. We have seen again that a God who is to
come in afterward is no God at all [i.e. a God that is not sovereign over all existence
M.W.]. Agnosticism cannot say that it is open-minded on the question of the nature
of ultimate reality. It is absolutely closed-minded on the subject. It has one view that
it cannot, unless its own assumption be denied, exchange for another. It has started with
the assumption of the non-existence of God and must end with it. Its so-called open-minded
attitude is therefore a closed-minded attitude. The agnostic must be open-minded and
closed-minded at the same time. And this is not only a psychological self-contradiction,
but an epistemological self-contradiction. It amounts to affirmation and denial at the
same time. Accordingly, they cancel out one another, if there is cancellation power in
them. . .
Incidentally, we may point out that, in addition to being psychologically and
epistemologically self-contradictory, the agnostic is morally self-contradictory. His
contention was that he is very humble, and for that reason unwilling to pretend to know
anything about ultimate matters. Yet he has by implication made a universal statement
about reality. He therefore not only claims to know as much as the theist knows, but he
claims to know much more. More than that, he not only claims to know much more than the
theist, but he claims to know more than the theists God. He has boldly set bare
possibility above the theists God and is quite willing to test the consequences of
his action. It is thus that the hubris of which the Greeks spoke so much, and upon which
they invoked the wrath of the gods, appears in new and seeming innocent garb.(2)
As seen in the above self-referential statements by unbelievers asserting total certainty
or agnostics in arguing for total uncertainty, we see that their statements are
self-refuting. It is amazing to see how many times these kinds of statements are made by
Some of the numerous examples and responses to self refuting contradictions made
by modern day unbelievers and irrationalists:
Only knowledge that can be empirically verified is true. Can you empirically
verify that statement?
There are no absolute truths. Is that statement absolutely true?
All truth is relative. Is the supposed truth you just asserted relative?
You should be skeptical of everything. Should we be skeptical of that
You ought not judge. Is that a judgment you just asserted?
The folly of modern unbelieving assertions about reality are best summed up by Van
Modern science boldly asks for a criterion of meaning when one speaks to him of
Christ. He assumes that he himself has a criterion, a principle of verification and of
falsification, by which he can establish for himself a self-supporting island floating on
a shoreless sea. But when he is asked to show his criterion as it functions in experience,
every fact is indeterminate, lost in darkness; no one can identify a single fact, and all
logic is like a sun that is always behind the clouds.(3)
Also, it problematic for non-believers, when they assert moral absolutes and omniscient
statements within the framework of a materialistic system that does not allow absolutes.
When finite man without Biblical authority asserts moral absolute omniscient statements,
it is indefensible. Moreover, it should be noted the absurdity of atheism's claim when
asserting, there is no God. The absurdity is this; it is impossible to prove a
universal negative. And furthermore, when the atheist asserts that there is no
God. When using the second question of the Socratic technique, how do you know
that? reveals the failure of this unverifiable claim. With that, we can dismiss the
non-believer's demand for verification, which they always demand of Christians. In regards
to the agnostic claims of ignorance concerning the existence of God, it should be noted
that this claim of ignorance is not an argument against the existence of God. Rather, it
is a sign of epistemological bankruptcy and what could be described as a deficiency of
Unbelievers argue in ways that are truly rational only on the basis of the
We cannot do without God any more when we wish to know about physics or psychology than
when we wish to know about our souls salvation. Not one single fact in this universe
can be known truly by man without the existence of God. Even if man will not recognize
Gods existence, the fact of Gods existence none the less accounts for whatever
measure of knowledge man has about God
.Now if every fact of the universe is created
by God, and if the mind of man and whatever the mind of man knows is created by God, it
goes without saying that the whole fabric of human knowledge would dash to pieces if God
did not exist and if all finite existence were not revelational of God.(4)
In closing, as Van Til observes:
It is the firm conviction of every epistemologically self-conscious Christian that no
human being can utter a single syllable, whether in negation or affirmation, unless it
were for Gods existence. Thus the transcendental argument seeks to discover what
sort of foundations the house of human knowledge must have, in order to be what it is.(5)
Van Til goes on to say:
We must point out that reasoning itself leads to self-contradiction, not only from a
theistic point of view, but from a non-theistic point of view as well... It is this that
we ought to mean when we say that we reason from the impossibility of the contrary. The
contrary is impossible only if it is self-contradictory when operating on the basis of its
To see the transcendental apologetic in an actual debate listen to the Greg
Bahnsen vs. Gordon Stein: titled The Great Debate on atheism versus the
existence of God at:
Both men are now deceased. Gordon Stein at the time was the top debater for atheism. In
this debate, Greg Bahnsen demolishes and totally upends Gordon Stein. It is well worth
your time to listen to this.
Download books by Cornelius Van Til on PDFs at:
See Van Til's Why I believe in God at:
See my The Importance and Necessity of Special Revelation at:
Let it be widely known that:
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God..." Psalm 14:1
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1
1. Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian
and Reformed Publishing Co., 1970), xii.
2. Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian
and Reformed Publishing Co., 1970) pp. 213,214.
3. Cornelius Van Til, Christian-Theistic Evidences (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and
Reformed Publishing Co., 1976), pp. 147-48.
4. Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R,
5. Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian
and Reformed Publishing Co., 1970) p. 11.
6. Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and
Reformed, 1970), p. 204).
Mr. Kettler is an ordained Presbyterian Elder and the owner of
http://www.Undergroundnotes.com where his theological, philosophical and political
articles can be read. He has worked in corporate America for over 30 years and is now
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