f we appreciate the implications of total depravity, then we are faced with a series of very insistent questions.How is it that races and peoples that have been apparently untouched by the redemptive and regenerative influences of the gospel contribute so much to what we call human civilization?
Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably?
Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit?
Could we understand more about the dogmatic debates in church history by studying unbelieving scholars’ analyses of the development of western civilization, its cultural institutions, and its intellectual trends?
Can our missiology be enriched by anthropologists’ analyses of primitive cultures in the developing world, or by a book written by a Muslim scholar, presenting Islam as a system of belief and behavior?
John Calvin, for example, writes of the achievements of ancient pagan culture: Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts.
If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God.
For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we condemn and reproach the Spirit himself. Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity?
Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature?
Let us think specifically of the noetic effects of total depravity—sin’s distorting influence on our thinking and understanding: our presuppositions, perceptions, and processes of interpretation and reasoning.
 Those who deny the living God of the Bible begin their thinking on the wrong foot, willfully blind to the most significant feature of every object in the universe and every event in history-the fact that every creature and its every action depend on the Creator and bear witness to the Creator.