Gleanings – Timeless Universal Principles (TUP)
by Dr. Gerald Chester
Timeless Universal Principles (TUP)
About ten years ago, I visited a school that had adopted my book, Beyond Babel, as part of their curriculum. When I arrived, the students were already familiar with the book. And when I engaged the students, they talked about TUP. At first, I didn’t know what they were referring to, so I inquired. They pointed to the subtitle of my book, which includes the phrase timeless universal principles, from which they formed the acronym TUP.
The concept of timeless universal principles is not popular among many today who argue that there are no transcendent, absolute laws governing the universe. Instead, they postulate that truth is not absolute but relative—a human construct.
Such thinking is popular with modern-day university philosophy departments whose professors entertain such abstract speculations. Hopefully, you are uncomfortable with this and recognize the fallacy of a worldview based on no absolute truth.
From a Christian worldview, the existence of TUP is a predicate of all knowledge. The reality of TUP is, therefore, an absolute truth. All science presumes the existence of TUP. Without TUP there is no way to know truth because there would be no laws governing the universe. Consequently, there is an irreconcilable bifurcation between scientists who presume the existence of absolute truth and philosophers who deny it.
The value proposition of educational institutions is to impart knowledge. Scientists clearly have a role in this because they believe in TUP, but what about philosophers who deny TUP? If they deny the existence of absolute knowledge, what can they teach? If truth is relative, there is no absolute knowledge, therefore, institutions of learning cannot exist to impart knowledge. But educational institutions do exist and impart knowledge. A denial of TUP by anyone in an educational institution is disingenuous.
Over the past three centuries, advancements in technology have been realized based on the presumption of TUP. Today, a plethora of examples of technical advancements facilitate the quality of human life, such as in food production, transportation, communications, automation, construction, health care, space exploration, and economics. The existence of TUP is undeniable. However, the philosophers who deny TUP have no explanation for the technological advances, but scientists do because they believe in TUP.
TUP is truth that transcends space and time. It is defined by the Creator who is the uncaused cause of all reality. The Creator is the starting point for all physical laws and the maker of all animate and inanimate objects. TUP cannot be defined by creatures. Only the Creator has the sovereign right and power to define TUP.
All life is predicated on TUP defined by the Creator. Every day the laws of mathematics and science operate without variation because the Creator of the universe established an orderly and predictable environment. Consequently, humans live in relative safety and comfort. All human needs are generally met daily and reliably in the same ways over and over again. This has been the reality for the millenniums of human existence on earth. Life as such is possible only because of the transcendent universal truth that supports human life.
Notwithstanding the overwhelming empirical argument for the existence of TUP, some question the existence of the Creator who is the source of TUP. Such thinking is folly—it is deranged thinking. One might wonder why anyone would think this way.
Theologically the explanation is simple—sin. Mankind is in rebellion against God. The first deranged thinkers were Adam and Eve who presumed that they knew how to manage creation better than the Creator. This thinking emboldened them to disobey God. God’s response was reciprocal. Adam and Eve employed deranged thinking to embolden them to sin, so God turned them over to deranged thinking. And because of the principle of reproduction after kind—a principle of creation—their heirs, namely all humans, are, by nature, deranged thinkers. This means that every human being is born a deranged thinker.
As deranged thinkers, mankind is in bondage to rebellion against God and impotent to change his innate nature. Nevertheless, mankind presumes to deny and/or redefine TUP.
To be clear, deranged thinking does not mean humans are totally incapable of sound thinking. God is merciful toward fallen mankind and has extended common grace to all. Common grace enables fallen humans to be able to think soundly enough to survive in God’s universe. But mankind using common grace alone can never fulfill their God-given potential because fallen humans are impotent to consistently think soundly. And common grace does not include the special grace of salvation through Jesus.
Because of common grace, even some deranged thinkers can see the folly of denying TUP. So, the most popular response by fallen mankind is to seek to redefine TUP. In other words, mankind is emboldened, like Adam and Eve, with the presumption that they know better than God how to manage the physical universe. This is deranged thinking.
Because of deranged thinking, mankind draws wrong conclusions. For example, mankind mistakes survival for permission. Just because a person commits a sin and isn’t immediately judged doesn’t mean that the person will not be accountable. God forbears; he defers judgment to give people an opportunity to repent (Acts 17:30–31). But deranged thinkers are prone to misinterpret God’s patience and forbearance. Therefore, they continue in their sin patterns, manifesting their deranged thinking.
The following are some examples, organized into worldview categories, of deranged thinking popular today:
These examples of deranged thinking are contrary to biblical teaching; nevertheless, this deranged thinking is widely embraced by the cultures of the world today.
The apostle Paul told the elite leaders in Athens—the intellectual capital of the world in the first century AD—the solution to deranged thinking. He told them to repent for their wrong thinking about God and start thinking correctly about the Creator—the source, sustainer, and redeemer for all humanity—because there will be judgment of all mankind based on God’s righteous standards. Only repentance and turning to Christ will enable mankind to escape the judgment and learn to live well in God’s universe by living congruently with TUP.
The ultimate expression of TUP was (and is) Jesus, who is both Lord and Christ. A person who embraces Jesus has the proper foundation for sound thinking. And sound thinking is the necessary predicate to sound living. May the truth about TUP challenge everyone to repent from deranged thinking and embrace Jesus as the foundation for sound thinking and sound living.