The secular philosopher, David Hume, postulated that one cannot get an ought from an is. Meaning, just because something is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s how it ought be. I get the sentiment… But I ask, on what grounds is this true?
Because if there is no God, as secular thinkers assume, then there does not exist any sense of what ought be, whatsoever. In other words, in order for oughtness to exist, there must be what Ravi Zacharias calls an ontic referent (a factual reference), or an ultimate authority from which oughtness is referenced or grounded. I think that this is what Hume was attempting to address, but in light of his worldview, there’s a major flaw. In Hume’s worldview, there is no God, there is no ultimate authority, there is no ontic referent. So, why should I even entertain his postulate? On what grounds should I take anything he says seriously, no? Because, according to his worldview, there is no grounding for anything that he proclaims. See? The ironic thing is though, Hume actually assumes what he is attempting to deny.
Because when Hume claims that one cannot get an ought from an is, Hume is then assuming that his claim is true. He is violating his own postulate by claiming truth. In other, words, he is attempting to proclaim a truth in a reality that he does not believe includes a grounding for truth. The irony of it is, is that David Hume cannot help but walk in the light of oughtness. He cannot help but attempt to identify oughtness, even while trying to deny it.
Because David Hume was an image bearer of God, and image bearers of God cannot help but image the God who created them to some degree. In other words, image bearers cannot fully escape image bearing.
Because such is what image bearers do by nature. It is what they are designed to do, by God, regardless of how hard they try fight it. And, too bad for Hume’s non-grounded assumption, because there is a God, he knew it.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.”
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
My question to the secular thinker is this:
Why ought I embrace any notion of “ought” or even “is,” by you, when such notions are not even grounded in anything, according to you? In other words, in light of your worldview, why does your view even matter?
Brothers and sisters, the nonbeliever refuses to walk in the light of what God has placed on their hearts. They refuse to walk in the light of conscience. They refuse to walk in the light of oughtness. We (Christians) must be careful to not allow the unbeliever’s folly to be affirmed by our surrendering to their perspective as possibly holding water, when there is no container; especially by our allowance of their assumptions to stand ungrounded when we engage them in evangelism. We ought not allow any non-grounded proclamations to ever be entertained. When we do, we then become fools as well… and we know better.
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.”
But, we must instead stand firm on our foundation, on our ultimate authority (God’s Word), and counter properly; as to possibly bring the unbeliever to the foot of the cross by encouraging them to turn from their conceit.
“Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.”
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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