Four hundred years before Van til, Luther held that man can have no true knowledge of anything at all in creation by the powers of reason.
... Luther did not deny that reason could discover many things... but he did hold that natural reason, which does not know God, is also ignorant of that which has been created by God (ignorat creaturam Dei).
...Luther did not condemn natural science, although he did ridicule its pretensions to wisdom.
...And yet even in this limited area reason takes more delight in fables and lies than in the truth.
...Now, if human reason cannot deal adequately even with natural science, how can it hope to begin to solve questions about the origin and destiny of the word? Reason does not know the fact of creation. Aristotle wrestled with the problem and came to no sure knowledge, although he inclined toward the opinion that the world must be eternal. At least he insisted, says Luther, that one can neither posit a first nor a last man. Here human reason is force to stop, for it is just as absurd according to human reason to posit a beginning of the world as it is to assert its existence from eternity.
...Reason, however, consider the biblical account of origins to be absurd. Luther said that if Aristotle were to read the account of Adam's creation, he would breakout in laughter, and if one were to follow reason, the story of the creation of Eve would sound like a fable. Commenting on the account of Eve's creation , he writes, "Where will you find a man who would have believed this story of the creation of Eve, if it had not been so clearly handed down to us?"
To know only present phenomena is to know scarcely anything. Luther asks, "For what...does a philosopher know about heaven and earth if he does not know where it comes from and where it is going?
...he would not be greatly impressed by modern advances in science. After looking around, he would soon remind us that we have not yet discovered, by the scientific method, the answers to the important question. Moreover, without the Christian faith it is impossible to know any part of creation correctly. Luther says, for example, that on cannot know what a man is or what a woman is unless one is a believer.... All the miseries of married life arise therefore, out of a lack of faith, because one spouse does not recogize the other as a creature of God.
If we recall our Popper, we remember that a theory which is not refuteable is not scientific. If no test can be designed that could possibly "falsify" it, it is not a scientific theory. Anything to do with origins and purposes falls into this area.
As a young person, now I am kind of used to it, I used to marvel at the stars and think about how things are either infinite or have a beginning or end. None of it can be grasped by our mind. It is completely mind-blowing.
From The Foolishness of God by Siegbert Becker (c) 1982 Northwestern Publishing House (www.nph.net). All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.