John Howe has demonstrated through long discussion the proposition that should one presume that the human being exists merely in and for this mortal life, one holds an absurdity as the conclusion. In doing this, Howe actually provides insight into two different issues of current apologetics: First, the problem of evil. Second, presuppositional apologetics.
Howe states that we cannot understand what is happening the in world unless start with the presumption that human beings exist for something greater than the current structure – only by presuming the continuing exists of humanity can we begin to understand our circumstance:
For whereas we can never give a rational account why such a creature as man was made, if we confine all our apprehensions concerning him to his present state on earth: let them once transcend those narrow limits, fly over into eternity, and behold him made for an everlasting state hereafter, and the difficulty now vanishes, the whole affair looks with a comely and befitting aspect.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, Volume 2 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 290. The structure of his argument runs similar to presuppositional arguments: We cannot understand the world until we first presume the existence of God.
This relates directly to the matter of “design” in evolution vs. intelligent design debates. One constant argument of evolutionists is that God could not have designed the world, because animals we see have so many devastating flaws. An intelligent design argument absent a presumption of Creation and Fall misses the argument that the design exhibits the Creator; the flaws exhibit the curse and decay of the world.
The greatest “flaw” in the design is death. If death can be answered, then the other questions pale in significance.
Howe proposes a case which answers the facts. First, the Creation, Fall, and Redemption:
For we may now represent the case thus to ourselves: that man was put into this terrestrial state and dwelling, by the wise and righteous designation of his great Creator and Lord, that his loyalty to him, amidst the temptations and enticements of sensible things, might be tried awhile; that, revolting from him, he is only left to feel here the just smart of his causeless defection; that yet such farther methods are used for his recovery, as are most suitable to his so impaired state.
The means of recovery are extraordinary acts of grace shown by God
testifies his reconcilableness, and persuades a reconciliation, upon such terms, and by so endearing mediums, as might melt and mollify hearts of adamant; and shall effectually prevail with many to yield themselves the subjects and instances of his admired goodness for ever; while others lie only under the natural consequents and just resentments of their unremedied enmity and folly.
though now we behold a dark cloud of mortality hanging over the whole human race; though we see the grave still devouring and still unsatisfied, and that all are successively drawn down into it; and we puzzle ourselves to assign a reason why such a creature was made a reasonable being, capable of an everlasting duration, to visit the world only and vanish, to converse a short space with objects and affairs so far beneath it, and retire we know not whither: if yet our eye follow him through the dark paths of the region of death, till at the next appearance we behold him clothed with immortality and fitted to an endless state, the wonder is over, and our amazement quickly ceases.
John Howe, The Works of the Reverend John Howe, Volume 2 (London: William Tegg and Co., 1848), 290. In short, Howe contends that redemptive history is a story which presupposed makes sense of the seeming senselessness of life.