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September 2, 2014

The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach


By James W. Sire

I’ve awakened, done my fifteen minutes of exercise for arthritis—lower back pain, you know. I can exercise in bed. Neat, huh? But still my energy is drained; I curl up under the covers. It’s been a quite cool night for August in Chicago. And then my psyche kicks in—those misty mid-regions of imagining, dozing, thinking, puzzling. Not long ago my Apologetics Beyond Reason was published. Yesterday I was asked about my emphasis on the role of intuition? How can one tell whether one’s sudden grasp of a “truth” of reality really is a “truth” and not a harebrained fantasy? I muse.

That is really a good question. And I do deal with it at some length in the book. One can check, for example, whether the intuition squares with other things you have much fuller reasons to believe. If it doesn’t, one holds the intuition, if not in doubt, at least in question and open to more data. Intuition itself, however, often has a very powerful sense of certainty. I just “see” it. I can’t deny I “see” it.

Isn’t this what Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli are illustrating by their seventh argument for the existence of God?

  • There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
  • Therefore there must be a God.
  • You either see this or you don’t.

Indeed! Here is direct perception of the truth of this combination of thoughts. Yes, you can give reasons why this perception may be correct. But that’s not what really convinces you, is it? Moreover, isn’t this what the apostle Paul long ago said, “Ever since the creation of the world his [God’s] eternal power and divine nature … have been understood and seen through the things that he has made” (Rom 1:20 NRSV)? “God has shown it to them,” Paul comments. And didn’t the psalmist declare that “The heavens are telling the glory of God” and they do so without speech (Ps 19:1-3 NRSV)? The only “speech” involved is the written speech of the psalmist and the sacramental speech of the universe.

When I wrote Apologetics Beyond Reason I finally recast Kreeft and Tacelli’s argument and made it one of two epigraphs for the book:

  • There is everything.
  • Therefore there is a God.
  • Either you see this or you don’t.

Have I gone too far with intuition? I don’t think so, but it has taken me 150 pages to flesh out all the “reasons” there are for justifying the claim. I commend the “argument” of Apologetics Beyond Reason to you. Reason with me if you disagree. But for me, it’s time for lunch.

SireOP.jpgJames W. Sire (PhD, University of Missouri), formerly a senior editor at InterVarsity Press, is an active speaker and writer. He has taught English, philosophy, theology, and short courses at many universities and seminaries. He continues to be a frequent guest lecturer in the United States and Europe.

Posted by Nate Baker-Lutz at September 2, 2014 10:17 AM Bookmark and Share

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