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  • The essence of Adam's rebellion was not intellectual; it was ethical. No one has argued this more forcefully than Van Til. The mere addition of knowledge to or by the unregenerate man does not alter the essence of his status before God. He is still a rebel, but he may possess knowledge. Knowledge can be applied to God's creation and produce beneficial results. Knowledge can also produce a holocaust. The issue is ethics, not knowledge. Thus, men can cooperate in terms of mutually shared knowledge; ultimately, they cannot cooperate in terms of a mutually shared ethics. What of the special curse? What is the ethical rebel's ethical relation to God? Common grace increases the unregenerate man's special curse. When common grace increases to its maximum, the special curse of God is revealed: total rebellion of man against the truth of God and in terms of the common grace-knowledge, power, wealth, prestige, etc. - of God, leading to final judgment. God does remove part of His restraint at the very end: the restraint on suicidal destruction. He allows them to achieve that death which they love (Prov. 8:36b). But they still have power and wealth, as in the Babylonian Empire the night it fell. Pagans can teach us about physics, mathematics, chemistry, and many other topics. How is this possible? Because common grace has increased. They had several centuries of leadership from Christians, as well as Enlightenment figures who adopted a philosophy of coherence that at least resembled the Christian doctrine of providence. They cannot hold the culture together in terms of their philosophy of chaos- Satan's official viewpoint - but they still can make important discoveries. They use stolen capital, in every sense.
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